Meet Mazagaon's little eco warriors

A six-year-old watches the Reducing, Reusing, Recycling (RUR) powerpoint presentation that highlights the destruction of trees, toxic gases emitted at waste dumps and Deonar’s giant garbage hills. Later, when asked about why she’s a part of this, she replies, “To win the first prize: a Toshiba laptop.”

It’s as honest an answer as you’ll hear; surprising then is to learn that Mazagaon boy Vindy Dias (14) decided to share his victory with his neighbour and assistant Ali Zaidi (10), and Ali was motivated to help his friend.

Vindy Dias with Ali Zaidi

Dias, an Antonio De Souza High School student and Zaidi, who studies at St Mary’s High School (SSC) spent most of their summer vacation collecting discarded Tetra Paks from their locality. After collecting 290 packs, Dias appealed to Byculla Zoo authorities, and in four days they collected 410 cartons.

They are in talks with the Zoo directors to create a recycling presentation for visiting schools. Monisha Narke, who set up RUR five years ago, is happy about the awareness that the contest (Tetra Pak partnered with Sahakari Bhandar) achieved. “This year, we had 20 schools,” she says.

“Even if you separate wet and dry waste, kabadiwalas (scrap dealers) don’t store Tetra Paks, as these get laced with sticky juice or milk,” she says. This is despite the fact that Tetra Paks are recyclable, and the aluminium and polyethylene content can be used as composite sheets for roofs.

“For every 4,500 cartons collected, Sahakari Bhandar donates a desk to a lesser privileged school based on the urgency and eco sensitivity they promote. This year, we secured 35 desks: 20 for Dadar’s Vikas Vidyalaya, a school for the hearing-impaired and 15 for Goregaon’s Valmiki Eco School.” Strimukti Sangatna, an association of 3,000 women rag-pickers had the task of collecting and baling Tetra Paks dropped at collection points so they could live a more hygienic life. Narke summarises, “Start with your homes -- separate your garbage and re-cycle.”

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