CHENNAI: There were 800 students and teachers who had Pongal special feast at Thiru. Vi. Ka Higher Secondary School in Shenoy Nagar on Friday. But they left zero inorganic waste. To put this in perspective, it took them at least 40 huge bags to carry the used paper plates and empty water sachets after the same event last year.
It was a rather simple idea that made it happen: they all brought their own plates and tumblers.
This small initiative by the government-aided school may hold the lesson for avoiding plastic waste generation at the schools across the state.
For the last two years, the school has been celebrating "Samathuva Pongal" on the school campus. During the celebrations, they would serve food for all the students, conduct competitions besides holding cultural events.
While planning this year's Pongal celebrations, the teachers have encountered a problem. Due to the plastic ban enforced from January 1, they could not get any paper plates or water packets.
"When we learnt that paper plates or cups won't be available due to the ban, we came up with this idea," said K.John, headmaster, Thiru.Vi.Ka Higher Secondary School, Shenoy Nagar, Chennai.
On Friday, except for a few students, almost all the students and teachers brought their plates and tumblers. Some students even brought tiffen boxes.
For those who forgot to bring them, the school has served plates kept for the NCC and NSS students to keep the environment clean. During the feast, the students were served with sweet pongal, bread halwa and vegetable biryani.
"We bought over 800 paper plates and 1,600 water sachets last year. For disposing of them we bought 40 huge carry bags as well. Several drums of waste also been generated and disposing of those waste has become an issue. But, this year, as soon as the students had their lunch washed the plates and left the school campus," he said.
After the event, the entire school premises were free of plastic wastes.
"We have realised that it is possible to conduct a bigger event without generating any non-degradable waste. We will adopt such measures in future to make the school campus free of plastics," a teacher said.
The entire event was organised by collecting money from the teachers and non-teaching staffs. "Each of us donated Rs.2,200 for the event and non-teaching staff donated Rs.1,000. Totally, we have collected nearly Rs. 50,000 and organised this event," another teacher said.
For a change, the school teachers performed before the students. The male teachers played tug of war while female teachers showcased their skills in filling tumblers with water in their bare hands.
To keep with the tradition, the students were given a "Silambattam" performance as well....