Keeping plastics at bay, Kerala shows way
Make sure you are not carrying any plastic bag while entering the Calicut Orphanage Lower Primary School in Kerela. Otherwise, a kid wearing a blue cap and badge will politely ask you to hand it over and give a cloth bag instead.
These children are members of the school's anti-plastic squad. The 10-acre school campus remains unblemished with plastic refuse, in quiet contrast to the surrounding areas.
The school has about 400 students, aged six to nine, and all of them are acutely aware of the harm caused by plastic refuse.
"Plastics do not decompose and cause pollution. Water collected in plastic rubbish becomes a breeding place for mosquitoes," said Ajaml Basil, a Class 3 student at the school and a member of the anti-plastic squad.
The school at Kolathara is in the suburbs of this city and institutions like a Teachers' Training Institute, an Industrial Training Centre and a high school are located in the same campus. These are run by the Calicut Islamic Cultural Society.
Inspired by their success within the campus, the little children are now taking their campaign against plastic outside.
"Our students have staged street plays in the surrounding areas against the menace of plastic. We started the campaign against plastic much before the government ordered a ban on the use of certain plastic products," said N.C. Abdullakutty, a teacher at the lower primary school.
"Our first initiative was against tobacco. We told children to discourage family members from using tobacco products. Then we thought about an awareness campaign against the use of plastic bags, as it became a problem in the campus. Many of the students were bringing their lunchboxes in plastic bags," said Abdullakutty.
But that did not help. "People from outside and members of other institutions in the campus were still bringing these bags inside," he added.
Now, a 10-member squad keeps watches out for violators.
"Every month squad members are changed so that all the students become a part of this initiative. They are provided with a cap and a badge. Before classes begin, the squad members collect their cap and badge after signing a register kept at the school office," said P. Bava, headmaster in charge.