by Karen Laurie
MUMBAI, MAR 7, 2016: "Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted," Leonardo Di Caprio said in his Oscar winning speech- one that will go down in history.
Students from 50 schools in Mumbai are striving to be greener people, so we can have a greener world! Encouraged by their school management, students are involved in 'greening' projects, in a bid to become the next generation of environmental leaders.
From creating butterfly gardens to nesting sites, from amphibian habitats to crawly gardens, youngsters in the city are going beyond their books, to care for the most pressing issue affecting us today, the environment.
One such school is Sacred Heart High School, Vashi that has been awarded the Greenest School award by GreenLine- a Don Bosco Environmental organisation working in the city of Mumbai- on March 5 at Don Bosco International School, Matunga.
Teacher Nirmala Nair, spearheading the eco movement- with another colleague- at Sacred Heart School says, "NGO's like GreenLine help us immensely. They conduct indoor and outdoor sessions with the kids, making it an interesting and hands-on experience for the students." Among other efforts, the school sells saplings, seeds and cloth bags at their open day.
Through their Green Schools Campaign, GreenLine uses a theme each year and works with schools to educate students about conserving the ecology, via information sessions and activities like bird watching, insectspotting, natural photography and others. To sustain the enthusiasm among schools, the best performing schools and individuals are awarded prizes.
Father Savio Silveira, Director of GreenLine says, "Through their green initiatives students are getting more and more involved in larger issues, ones that affect the city."
Auxilium Convent High School, Lonavla for instance, has roped in neighbouring schools to conduct cleanliness drives. They even approached the Lonavla Municipal Corporation (LMC), who inspired by their enthusiasm, has formalised waste pickers by giving them badges. The LMC has also reduced the use of plastic bags by shops in Lonavla.
In line with Green School Campaign's 'Fauna watch' theme for the year, Nair used a waste tub, to create an amphibian pond in her school. It became a pet project for the eco club. Her principal encouraged them by building a permanent pool. "The Navi Mumbai Municipal corporation now provides us with tadpoles and guppies, to ensure the water doesn't stagnate," Nair said.
Dr Parvish Pandya- recipient of the Green Teacher award by Santuary Asia- who was the chief guest at the Greenline awards ceremony said to the students, "You won't become environmental experts in a year. But this is a start; you now have to make it your lifelong commitment."
The little green initiatives are turning the children into green warriors. Khushi Yadav, of Sacred Heart School, Worli, who won the Green Champ award for being the 'greenest student' in her school says, "We first made bird feeders in school, then I made it for my house too. We planted trees in our schools, excited- we later adopted the neighbouring plot and did tree plantation drives there."
Chairman of the Maschio Memorial Foundation- that funds the awards given to the winning schools - Father Edwin D'Souza says, "The foundation's thrust is to support innovation and by getting the students to nuture nature so young, you are ensuring the good habits grow with them."
The world may just have found the solution to all its ecological problems, in our young, who are our future and our hope!