“Kabad se Jugad” Creating the Best out of Waste: Children Innovating on Waste Management

Ananya’s Fellowship is made possible by the Rural India Supporting Trust. 

“Miss, can we do something out of this?” asked Sweety of grade VIII, showing a pile of old newspapers to her teacher, Ms. Khushboo Parveen. On the very next day, Muskan brings an old bell of her cycle if they can utilize it in any way. Slowly the students started bringing the unnecessary things or trash from their home. These things included the used pens (use and throw pens), rugged newspapers, used plastic bottles, old greeting cards, hard boards, etc. Initially, they piled up all the trash, what they can find their locality. The students not only brought the waste materials from their home but also they used to pick things from the way to their school. They never knew what they are going to do with these trashes. Their teacher asked them to think for a week and come to the same place where they had piled the waste materials.

A peacock made of newspaper by the students in Bedualiya Middle School, Ujiarpur Block, Samastipur, Bihar.

 

Now after the week, Ms. Khushboo, their teacher showed them how to roll the newspaper and make it a stick-like structure. That this stick-like structure can again be turned into various forms. Initially, they were learning to make geometrical shapes out of that. Gradually, the students involved them in creating a  photo frame, paper-made flowers, flower bouquet, etc. Then, they planned to décor a classroom in their school to showcase their creativity. Over the last year, these students of Middle School Bedulia of Ujiarpur Block in Samastipur district of Bihar have been trying to create things out of unused waste materials.

 

Subsequently, the students have organised a Baal Mela (Children’s Fair) named as “Vidylaya Samudaya Samagam” (translatedA gathering of school and community”) in their school. The objective was to demonstrate and share the ideas of creative art and craft work among all the cluster level schools and with their parents. Six schools participated in this program. The theme of the exhibition was “Kabad se Jugaad”: Creating the best out of waste. There included science projects on solar energy, kinetic energy, and sewing activities like dress designing, knitting designs, etc. The program was supplemented with food stalls organized by the students.

“I was immensely happy to see that classroom of the school on Baal Mela, where the students have decorated their art and craft works,” said an overwhelmed Manju Devi, the cook of the Mid-Day Meal programme of the school.

A part of the team at the exhibition counter of “Kabad se Jugad” at the Children’s Fair.

Tuesdays are now Mangal Pandey Diwas in the Government Middle School Hasanpur Road of Hasanpur Block of Samastipur. It signifies a creative day introduced by the Bal Sansad, the student parliament members in the school. “We asked our friends to bring any waste materials like

A wind chime made of wool and glass bangles by the students in Middle School Hassanpur Road, Samastipur, Bihar

used plastic bottles, cardboard, used pens,” said Sunika, the education minister of the school, while showing the flower pot they had prepared out of it.

Initially, they had taken 40 students from class VII and VIII and then divided them into 5 groups. Each group was given a theme of waste materials like newspaper, plastic bottles, wool, cardboard, and used pens. The groups were asked to feel free to make anything out of it. They have made flower pots, photo frames, wind chimes, wool, glass bangles, and baskets. Their signature creation was a flower pot made out of plastic bottles. These groups were excited to find the creativity within each other. They started building on that. One one Tuesday, they merged the idea with the large group. Now, more students became interested in the same activity. They are utilizing the day-to-day waste materials from their school. They also installed a dustbin in the school to keep it more clean.

“Even I was not sure what the Bal Sansad is going to do with these plastic bottles,” said the Headmaster of the school. It has also enhanced the interest of the students to stay back until the last class to participate in the Mangal Pandey Diwas.

 

The must-do photograph with the creative group in Middle School Hassanpur Road, Samastipur, Bihar. Photo Courtesy: Mr. Ranjay, Quest Alliance.

Now, there are 7 schools in Samastipur district that have envisaged these ideas of waste management, thereby making useful things out of the waste materials found around. The student parliaments in the schools have initiated this idea, which is developing the creative concept among the children. As a result, the children are learning the optimal utilization of the resources. This seeds the idea of “reuse and recycle” among the students, aiming towards a green planet.

“No plastic” is nothing but a lifestyle. Nowadays, we are so engulfed with the plastic, that we cannot think beyond it. In Assam[1], a school is asking for plastic waste as their fees. So that they can encourage the students to reduce the use of plastic.

One of my creative works made out of used shampoo bottles

A few things I remember from my childhood is that my mom used keep the used bottles of shampoo, lotion, deodorant, etc. She used to make interesting things out of it. She actually used to create those things out of nothing, a thing of no use. Sometimes, we were annoyed with that trash. But mostly me and my younger sister used to wait patiently for her creations. We used to assist her with the work sometimes. Our afternoon hours in summer vacation would not have been so interesting without this art and crafts  work done by our mom, as we were not able to play out due to the scorching sun. Most of the things were for household décor and some were reusable. While becoming an adult myself, I also have started keeping the trash, trying to make something creative out of it. Slowly it has grown as an interest.

While interacting with the students and their teachers in Samastipur, I realized the passion of creating reusable substances among the students. I’ve witnessed that this approach not only initiates the students towards the art and craft activities, but also imbibed an idea of sustainability. Usage of required amount of resources can actually lead them towards minimum utilization of resources, thereby building upon the sustainable usage of resources.

 

The Anandshala programme of Quest Alliance is trying to engage the students until the last hours of school. Through their enrichment programs, they are involving the students of the middle school from class V to VIII. The art and craft work are increasing the students’ interest with the school activities. They are likely to stay back in their school till the last hours for these innovative and enrichment activities. All these are happening with the commencement of Bal Sansad[2] in the school. Thereby, the students are developing their critical thinking, adding food for their innovated ideas, and finding the agency. Unless there is a scope to think differently, we cannot expect the change will happen and sustain.

Trying to be creative with the group and their teacher in the creative room of Middle School Bedaulia in Ujiarpur, Samastipur, Bihar. Photo Courtesy: Ms. Rajlaxmi, Quest Alliance.

[1] Barua, Ananya. “This Couple’s Unique School in Assam Accepts Plastic Waste as School Fees!” The Better India, 30 April 2019. https://www.thebetterindia.com/180629/assam-couple-sustainable-school-plastic-waste-education-inspiring-india/

[2] Bal Sansad is the elected student parliament/ body in every government middle school in India. The Bal Sansad is an elected body of the school which identifies issues, initiates problem-solving approaches, and drives impactful change in their school. They act as an inspiration to work with the limited resources and high aspirations for their school. They are the democratic voice of the entire student body. https://aif.org/for-the-children-by-the-children-and-of-the-children-students-understanding-democracy/

Ananya strongly believes in story-telling and capacity of an individual to share their own story to create change. Through her fellowship with Quest Alliance in Samastipur, Bihar she is trying to capture the stories of change and creating platform to share the same. William J. Clinton Fellowship has provided her an opportunity to explore her creative ideas and skills. She is proud to pursue her fellowship with Quest Alliance. She has completed her post-graduation in Masters of Social Work from Visva-Bharati, India. She flagged her professional career with Pratham, focusing on the education of children of Tea Tribes in North-eastern India. Moving towards central India she has worked in Ekjut with Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (formerly known as Primitive Tribal Groups) of Jharkhand state, for ensuring their nutrition and food security. She is a selected change maker of Change.org campaigning for Universalization of Maternity Entitlement for all women. She enjoys singing and music, especially playing guitar.

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