Innovative ideas being employed to tackle non-biodegradable garbage is always gratifying. One such initiative is at the slums in Faridabad in Haryana, also referred to as Auto Pins. Here children as the active participants of Bal-Panchayat of SOS Children’s Villages, an NGO for the children to debate and find solutions for the problems affecting them and their families, are upcycling the plastic waste such as use-and-throw plastics, carry bags, wrappers, and so on, to make reusable building blocks.
Every few weeks, the children set aside a few hours of their time to collect plastic garbage and water bottles from the community of over 4,000 households. Recently, with the collected plastic waste they have made bottle bricks/eco bricks. Till now, they have created about 300 bottle bricks, each weighing about 200 grams, further leading to constructing benches and installing them in the community with the support from the co-workers of the said NGO.
In a conversation with The Morning Standard, Sumanta Kar, National Deputy Director, SOS Children’s Villages India, says that the plan is to make more eco bricks to build structures such as benches and dustbins that meet the local requirements.
How does this initiative build the psychological and mental aspects of a child?
Auto Pins is our programme location and was selected as per the guidelines of our organisation. These initiatives help to grow a desire in young minds to be actively involved in team work, which in turn provides these children a safe space. It teaches children to take responsibility for their actions. Creating the eco bricks out of their plastic waste and constructing benches in their own community, makes them happy to see that their efforts have paid off.
Are you asking for plastic waste from the public?
Yes, some of the families whose children are not part of the initiative are also giving their dry plastic waste to our Bal Panchayat members. A few have started making their own eco bricks.
What all are being created by using discarded plastics?
Other than the eco bench, our children have made a few sitting stools with eco bricks. But a lot more can still be made from discarded plastic.
Are you planning to hold similar activities in other places?
We will start the initiative in other programme locations of Santosh Nagar, Gurukul and Khori, among other places in Faridabad.
Have you faced any challenges during this initiative?
It wasn’t easy to convince the parents to involve the children in about its uses and benefits, but since the Bal Panchayat members coordinated the process, everything settled with time.
Nisha, Age 15, Class 10
How was your experience knowing about and building the eco-bricks?
We didn’t know much about plastic waste, but after a training session, our Bal Panchayat took the initiative in our community as plastic waste is a major cause of concern in our locality. Earlier, we used to throw the plastic waste in the drain, but today we are making eco bricks out of the same waste and have constructed a bench in our community. Eco bricks can be used for constructing walls, making stools and a lot more. An eco-brick is equivalent to a normal brick and it’s reusable as well.
Saloni, Age 16, Class 10
How has this activity helped you in knowing about your environment?
We were very excited to do something different. With this initiative we see a lot of changes not just within our home, but in our locality as well. It reduces the risk of our animals swallowing the plastic waste. We have stopped burning the plastic waste, and this keeps our air clean. With the construction of eco bricks and then the eco bench, we have realised the importance of preserving our Mother Nature. It’s beautiful how our small efforts can turn out to be something so useful.