‘Hariyo’ is a vernacular word for green, and Makha is the place where I am working as a teacher. Recalling my memories of school days when polythene was banned for the first time in Sikkim, I wondered then why such a useful and handy thing was banned. Perhaps, this was the time when I dug deep into the cause. The results inculcated in me the need of ‘environmental liability’, and in later years, grew to become an integral part of life.

Two Years of Failure

Back in 2013-14, in order to prevent burning of plastic covers of Kurkure, Lays, and the like, I began collecting them so that they can be given to rag pickers for free. However, my idea could not fetch any monetary benefit for them and hence the idea became futile. Those two years of complete failure created in me a ‘negative motivation’ towards the cause.

An Idea Was Born

In 2015, a new idea was born. The covers of such eatables were collected, cut, cleaned thoroughly and dried in the sun. This shining silver plastic was pasted end to end and was used for the first time to cover the attendance register of Class IX ‘A’. Thus out of nothing, something useful was created. Overwhelmed by this small success, we began collecting more and more plastics.

In 2015-16, more than 300 books and copies were covered using the silver plastic. In addition, students from classes IX and X worked very hard producing enormous rolls of plastics that were more than one kilometre in length. A video documentary regarding our work was also made under Rakdong-Tintek BAC that fetched the first prize in the State.

The initiative was also appreciated by Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Commerce & Industries.

New Year Brings New Surprises

Our work began gaining more and more attention from the surrounding schools as well. An small meeting was called on 17th February 2017 that included all SMCs, Panchayats, NGOs and Clubs. We decided to share our work with other schools as well. Adarsh Vidhya Mandir, Singbel, East Sikkim, became the first school participant in our project. In the first phase, a group of 36 students from Class X ‘A’ outnumbered a record breaking total of 1103 book covers in just 15 days, using those scrap pieces of plastics that would have otherwise be seen lying here and there on the roads. Other schools that also joined us were Government JHS Singbel, Government Secondary School, Ralap and Government Senior Secondary School, Singtam.

Resources Waiting To Be Exploited

Last year, while cleaning our laboratory room, yet another idea was born. The hard practical covers were separated and were used for hard-binding a total of 221 books of classes VI, VII and VIII.

Another unnoticed resource was one sided papers. A bunch of 25 papers were stapled to form rough papers that were given to students for free. Starting from a mere 29 bunches on 11th March, the number climbed to yet another record breaking total of 13,350 pages by the end of 2016. This idea led the students to use other one-sided papers at home as well.

Eliminating Hidden Losses

Another activity was with ruled copies. Proper calculation revealed that the upper and lower margins resulted a wastage of around 25-35 pages per copy depending on its size. Thus by shifting the idea of using plain copies for all subjects accounted for reduction in paper wastage.

More Active Participation

All these activities along with ideas yet to come this year constitute what is known as ‘Hariyo Makha’. Initiated with the aim of protection of Mother Nature, we look forward towards a healthy and clean State and nation as a whole. We look forward for everybody’s cooperation to make our earth a better place for living.

Lomas Dhungel, Founder Cum Developer, Hariyo Makha, Government Senior Secondary School, Makha

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