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Mumbai City Schools Turn Waste Into Wealth

Mumbai based Vivekanand Education Society (VES), which runs 26 institutions, has come up with novel ways to stand out in solid waste management. In a pioneering initiative, Zero Waste Campus Project was launched at VES recently, in association with the State Education Department and Stree Mukti Sanghatana, as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The stakeholders including the Education Department will now try to spread the drive further to other schools around. Besides putting in place this system for waste management, the project is also aimed at creating awareness among the students and staff on having a proper and responsible waste management mechanism (separating wet and dry waste). Four compost pits have been built in the campus to treat the green and kitchen waste on the sprawling campus. The campus houses 26 institutions with over 18,000 students.

NGO Stree Mukti Sanghatana is facilitating the implementation of the project. As part of this decentralized solid waste management, it has already held training programmes for housekeeping, garden and other staff on how to segregate waste and ensure zero waste. Rashmi Joshi, member of Stree Mukti Sanghatana said that the key component of the initiative is a plan to educate students about composting and recycling. “One person’s waste is another person’s wealth,” she added.

Inaugurating the compost pits, VES Secretary Amar Asrani said: “We live in a world where little should go to waste. It is hoped that this first step would be the beginning of a series of activities in the campuses by the Zero Waste Volunteers that would ultimately make sustainability a way of life”. The programme was attended by a good number of enthused NSS volunteers from the VES institutions. Mumbai University has approved a grant for NSS students and NSS volunteers involved in the project and they will be awarded hours under Area Base Project (up to 10 hrs), depending on the level of involvement and desirable result, as it is an in-campus project. Posters in the campus carry strong messages on waste segregation and its value, on stopping littering within the campus, the do’s and don’ts of Waste Management, etc.

“The training programme enlightened us on the best practices for reducing the waste brought on campus, effective strategies to reuse and recycle materials”, said Rebecca D’souza, a student. Education Inspector of South Zone BD Puri was also present along with VES office-bearers on the occasion.

The Vivekanand Education Society started its educational activities in 1962 with only 256 students in a High School. Today, the Society has over 18,000 students on the roll of Primary School, High School, Jr. College, Deg. College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Polytechnic & Engineering College, College for Management Studies, Law  College, and College of Pharmacy.