Say No to Littering!

Aayan Kumar PG and Abhiram Varma Dandu, class 3 students at Blue Blocks Montessori School, Hyderabad, have started an Anti-Littering Team to raise awareness about the importance of cleanliness and encourage people in their community to segregate waste at its source. SCARLETT RODRIGUES spoke to them to learn more about their campaign and how to keep one’s community clean during the upcoming festive season.

AAYAN KUMAR PG 

What inspired you to take up the anti-littering initiative? 
People in my community kept on littering though there are ample dustbins around. This made me realise that I had to do something to stop this behaviour. 

How did you form the Anti-Littering Team and how did you raise awareness in your community?
One of my like-minded friends, Abhiram joined me and with the support of our parents, we formed the Anti-Littering Team. We created anti-littering posters, stuck them on our bicycles and set out on our first anti-littering awareness round on March 7. We approached strangers and requested them to use dustbins or carry their waste, such as chocolate wrappers and bottles, home with them where they could dispose them off in the right way instead of carelessly littering the place.

What activities and drives have you conducted so far?
We have conducted door-to-door campaigns and urged people to support us by pledging not to litter and to participate in our drives. Our supporters are given ‘anti-littering’ stickers, which they stick near their main doors. We have carried out four cleanliness drives in our area in which we have picked up waste materials and segregated them into recyclables and trash. We have also organised a poster-making event in which children made posters using waste paper and cardboard.

We conducted a survey where we asked people their views on what India would look like nine years from now, when it would be litter-free. The survey was followed by an event where children made Lego models of the clean cities of India such as Indore, Alleppey and Vijayawada. During our summer break, we set up a two-day lemonade stall, which we used to gather supporters. We also raised awareness about hazardous waste materials such as batteries, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and broken glass, which one should never mix with other trash.

What activities have you planned for the next few months?
We have completed six months of working towards keeping our surroundings clean. In order to increase our outreach, we will continue our door-to-door campaigns and approach more people in areas surrounding our society. We have urged people to segregate waste at the source as a priority. We are also coming up with quizzes, songs and jingles to promote our initiative.

What message would you like to give children and adults?
Awareness about waste management is not enough. People need to take action. Throwing garbage in the dustbin is good, but throwing it in the RIGHT dustbin is even better. Improper disposal of waste pollutes our environment, so everyone needs to be careful. Recycling minimises the accumulation of waste and protects our natural resources.

ABHIRAM VARMA DANDU

Littering during processions and festival celebrations is very common. What do you think people can do to minimise pollution and litter?
Before any event or festival, we make an announcement to remind people to celebrate without causing harm to the environment. We made an announcement on stage the day before Holi urging residents of our society not to leave litter behind. Enjoyment is important but not at the cost of the environment. After the celebration, people should make sure they clear up the trash that is scattered around.

How do you get people to participate in the drives that you conduct?
We have a website, a YouTube channel and a WhatsApp group through which we inform people about our upcoming drives. People are interested in hearing about our drives and are keen to participate in them. Many of the adults in our neighbourhood have praised our efforts. Initially, people did not know about us, but now everyone recognises us and is aware of our initiative. We are often greeted with this, “We know you are the Anti-Littering Team and we are not littering.” We have over 100 supporters and eight of our friends have joined us on our door-to-door rounds.

What change have you observed in your neighbourhood after you started this initiative?
After we started this initiative, we observed that people have begun segregating waste. We have urged people to register with Bintix, a company that collects recyclable waste. Bintix provides people with blue bags so that they can dispose of recyclable waste separately. Bintix collects this waste from our society once a week. We have also urged people to dispose of used batteries in a battery collection container provided by our society. Bintix collects this waste separately.

The duo tell you how to start your own anti-littering team:

  • Spread awareness about not littering.
  • Take the anti-littering message to your school and community and educate people about segregating trash in the correct dustbin. You can use posters for this.
  • Encourage people to segregate at source.
  • Encourage your friends and their friends to join in. The more the people, the greater the awareness.
  • Undertake cleaning drives, with or without volunteers.
  • Do a special awareness drive about hazardous waste.
  • Let people know that littering is related to bigger problems like animals and birds falling sick or dying.
  • Let people know that littering and not segregating waste causes fires in dump yards and also causes air, soil and groundwater pollution.

REFLECTION: Heal the Environment

List any 5 things that you use that can be recycled, reused or reduced.

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