It all started with an idea to celebrate Deepavali by saying NO to crackers. Noble enough? Perhaps, if you think that the atmosphere is the only thing which makes up the environment.
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However, the environment as a whole, includes all impacted, from the people who buy crackers to the ones who burst them, from the ones who fall sick because of them, to the cracker sellers as well. So when you are hit by a noble idea one fine morning to save the environment, you also need to think about the families who could be impacted.
So instead of spending our hard earned money on environment polluting crackers, we decided to use it to support the health and education of the needy families who would be impacted by our decision. Posters were printed and put up all over the complex, requesting people to refrain from bursting crackers and donate to the needy instead.
Now another question was haunting us – how could we give people an alternate choice which would be far better than bursting crackers? We definitely needed to do something to tackle the nay sayers, to give children a better way of celebrating and to motivate the confused people. So we came up with another idea – organising a competition to engage families by promoting quality bonding time.
We decided that participants would have to take part as a family and create craft items with their household dry waste. The theme being, spend the money you would have otherwise spent on crackers, on the needy, and the time you spent in bursting crackers, on being creative together. The time for the competition was carefully chosen – 7 pm to 8:30 pm, the time when people typically burst crackers.
Easier said than done – we were late in announcing the competition, and we received only two nominations until the second last day. Extremely disappointed and demotivated, we thought of dropping the idea. However, a last try was made and another mailer was sent out to the residents. This time we received 12 more registrations and we could go ahead with organising the event. Though only children turned up for the competition, the turnout was much more than the registered numbers. So we were ON in spite of a late notice.
And what an event that was, what enthusiasm! A talented lady in our apartment guided the children all through. And when the children gave final touches to their craft items, it was a proud moment for all of us. Beautiful flowers, wall hangings, even a smiling sun were created using plastic pet bottles. Other items included a working model a of boat with a propeller using a juice tetra pack, decorative items using used gift wrapper, and even a big creepy chameleon using bubble wrap, to name a few. The children enjoyed creating something from scratch and had loads of fun working as a group, while all the parents felt proud watching them create.
Mission accomplished? Well, we created only one-fourth of the waste which was generated last year!
The children of SJR Verity with their handiwork.
Pictures: Sujata Nanda