I have been holding awareness sessions on waste management since 2012 in Bengaluru. Practicing first, and then preaching about waste segregation at source, home composting and the topic closest to my heart – reduction of waste. I have always enjoyed doing sessions with kids. I love youngsters’ enthusiasm so I started conducting quizzes, creating crosswords related to waste and gifting them saplings grown in used paper cups during our sessions.
When I joined SWMRT (Solid Waste Management Round Table) last year, we realised it is not easy to change the mindset of people. We discussed the importance of educating school children on the subject since they are tomorrow’s citizens. Archana Kashyap and I took up the project of writing a book as a challenge since we believe the new generation will make a difference. Since neither of us had written a book before, it has been a very interesting journey. We compiled a lot of material already available, took help from several friends and volunteers, added what we have learnt over the years in a very structured and simple way with a young illustrator Sahil Kutty who put everything together with beautiful illustrations.
Trashonomics was launched by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board on World Environment Day this year. The book is aimed at educating middle-school children with the support of EVS or Science teachers in 3-5 sessions. We have started sessions in few schools ourselves and we hope to conduct a teachers’ training program based on the book soon. It has five colourful chapters, the first one about the problems of waste mismanagement and the next four giving solutions which are easy to implement starting in the school itself. All these chapters are accompanied by our mascot ‘Kaagey’ the crow holding slogans, as well as lots of fun facts and activities.
One set of books for one class is all that the school needs to invest in. The books can then be passed on to the next class after one class has finished with them, so the children also learn to apply the concept of reuse. They are encouraged to start their own eco club in the school, stop using disposables when organising events, composting organic/garden waste and if space permits they can also start a vegetable garden. By growing vegetables the children will understand what is safe food, food grown just using their own compost and hopefully start doing it at home too. After doing the sessions on Trashonomics with underpriviledged students I started gifting them food saplings in exchange of their recyclable waste from home, I was overwhelmed by their response. These kids live in the slum but it doesn’t prevent them to grow simple things like basele soppu, tomatoes, brinjals, chillies, curry leaves...
(Claire Rao recently authored a book Trashonomics where she encourages composting and solid waste management)