Student, Grade 10, Vasant Valley School, Resident of Sunder Nagar, New Delhi
I was on my way to Delhi from Ghaziabad and I crossed a huge landfill, almost the height of the Qutub Minar. It was so disturbing to pass by and see children of my age handling and separating wastes with their bare hands. Rather than going to school for an education that can help them grow, and thereby the nation; they are cleaning up the mess that has largely been created by us. And, some of these, we have inherited, called legacy waste. Do we want to be known for our historical culture of the Qutub Minar or for the height of the landfills? Aside from deeply impacting young children, these landfills also have a major impact on our health. Firstly, they emit greenhouse gases consisting mostly of methane and carbon dioxide – leading to global warming, and the widespread air quality issues that we all are suffering from. Secondly, these landfills have toxic wastes, whose chemicals can seep into the ground and mix with our water supply, contaminate soil and groundwater. Stealing childhoods, harming our air quality, causing water pollution, and soil pollution – isn’t enough a list of dangers to doing away with the landfills?
I have been greatly inspired by Greta Thunberg. She is an ordinary student-turned activist who has urged global efforts to deal with the climate crisis. As a 16-year-old girl, she has the attention of world leaders; her efforts make me believe that it is the strength of the cause and sincerity behind it that can lead to making a difference. The need of the hour is for each person to take their future into their hands. We really need to think about future generations, otherwise, our children will blame us and only us.
Along with some residents of my residential community, Sunder Nagar, I have taken the initiative to come forward and form a group called Mission RGB (Red, Green, and Blue). Our waste segregation programme launched on 28thSeptember 2019. It has been sponsored by the ITC Wow Esree Foundation. With the enormous help from Madhusudan, Sushma, Babita, and Vishaka the process has taken its course in the right direction. It has taken a significant amount of hard work and brainstorming for all of us to come together. The aim of our programme is to make sure that every household in the colony segregates its waste to ensure environment-friendly disposal. We campaigned door to door to educate residents on the segregation of different wastes and the impact it can have on the environment, if not segregated.
My mother took the initiative first to join mission RGB. At first, I was told to do it but now I feel that each and every one of us needs to realize that this is important. If we don’t start now, there will be no life left on Earth. Parents should be teaching their children. I cannot thank my mom enough for opening my eyes. We, the kids will be the future leaders and it is up to us to make sure we and the future generations live a good life. So many children from my colony are willing to go to extents to help with waste segregation.
Aside from segregation, our programme has also convinced Sunder Nagar residents to stop lining their garbage bins with plastic bin liners. 70% of this has already been achieved. Through this, we have prevented a significant amount of plastic from reaching the landfills. If this is what a small community like Sunder Nagar has achieved in just a few months, imagine what could happen if all communities adopted this!
It is important to know that plastic harms the environment as it is non-biodegradable. Therefore plastic never goes away, taking years to degrade. We need to respect the planet and have gratitude for all the things that God has provided us with. As a necessary lifestyle change, we must also purchase only environment-friendly items. Recycling of cans, paper, and other items can also greatly help our cause.
The impact of our programme could eliminate 1600 tonnes of waste from going into landfills. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) could save nearly ₹32 lakh, every year, just from garbage transportation. There could be many other direct and indirect savings, for example, staff health expenses. We avoid the same by making our own compost pits and doing community composting. We have achieved 70% of this and wish to complete our mission soon. For this, the combined effort of the whole Sunder Nagar community is highly appreciable. All the mothers and children of Sunder Nagar have worked really hard to ensure that the solid waste in the society is segregated and biodegradable waste is taken for composting.
To overcome health hazards, each one of us has to render a helping hand and do our bit irrespective of gender, age, status, and position. Shame is not in clearing your own filth but in letting others do it for you. We have already reached a point where the criticality and seriousness of the damage to our environment are unavoidable. We should be obliged to leave our children as much we received from our forefathers – if not more. This is the need of the hour. There is no point in talking about education and jobs unless we have a clean environment for us to thrive in. Recently, I was reading Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), who illustrated that “Clean environment is a fundamental right of citizens. ‘Right to Life’, as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution must be ensured by the States. Having said State, I mean all the people and stakeholders of a State and not just the government functionaries alone.”
I want to make a difference and if we work together, we can make Delhi a cleaner city to live in. Would you like to join me?
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