C Rama Devi
If I am asked what the colour of life is, I will promptly say, GREEN. Why green? Because it is the colour of prosperity, the colour of Earth, the colour that adds beautiful shades to one’s life. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that your morning becomes more pleasant when you see your green plants swaying in the breeze. It is as if they are welcoming the new day with positivity.
If by just starting the day seeing plants can make a difference in one’s life, imagine what it would be like if we are surrounded by greenery! This thought led me to the vision of a green school. Many ideas on how to implement this green vision popped up during the brainstorming session with my teachers, who have participated in national projects in connection with energy conservation. If we were to realize our vision for a green school, the students too would have to be involved. Only when we practice, we can preach to reach ‘each’. To start this initiative, the teachers were divided into groups in charge of implementing the ideas that were finalized at the brainstorming session. Teachers and students were to work on the ideas together. The activities that were done as part of implementing the ideas became learning experiences for the students. The intention was to make sure that these ideas registered in the young minds and they carry this green initiative to their families and communities and in turn benefit the society. Green is not just the colour of life, it has many dimensions to emulate the idea of wellness in all aspects. This wellness further motivates peace and harmony.
Our action plan was initiated in the month of July as we celebrate ‘Vanamahotsav’ during this month – something that our founder father Shri K M Munshiji started. The day is also marked as the school foundation day. It is a tradition of the school that the chief guest of the day plants a medicinal plant and the children are given tulsi plants to take home. The teachers have also marked their patches of land on the campus. Along with a group of students, every teacher has planted a sapling and it is the group’s duty to nurture this plant and see that it grows in a healthy manner.
The students are asked to bring a sapling to the school on their birthday and plant it on the campus; we call this area the ‘birthday patch’. The children enjoy as they water the sapling every day. Visitors, chief guests or resource people who come to our school are gifted saplings and books. This initiative has been taken to ensure that our message of a green school comes out loud and clear. Gradually, the children have got tuned and the campus has a variety of plants that attract butterflies and birds. There are many kinds of crotons and fruit bearing plants too. The science teachers have found a wonderful opportunity with this initiative. They take the students to the backyard to sow seeds and teach them practically how to grow a kitchen garden. This initiative received a good response from the parents too. The cherry on the cake was the waste segregation and vermicomposting, which came as a bonus to them for reducing the carbon footprint at home. At school we have rainwater harvesting pits and the terrace water is also diverted to the gardens. A bio-digester has also been set up to accommodate the vegetable waste from the canteen. We take pride in saying that we have an extended family of goats, geese, hens, dogs, hares, cows, etc. The cow dung is used for preparing ‘panchagavya’ and this helps us meet the requirement of manure in the campus along with the dry leaf waste and the daily dump.
I would like to conclude by mentioning that our school got an opportunity to participate at the World Environment Day in 2011 in Delhi. The participants brought home the message of the 3 Rs and we decided to give up plastic on the campus and reduce the use of water bottles and replace them with steel water bottles. The children were asked to bring used pet bottles from home and turn them into eco-friendly planters. The students took part enthusiastically and built a ‘green wall’. Before I end this article, I have to mention our seed pencils and seed flags! The school distributes seed pencils among the children on the occasion of ‘Children’s Day’ and seed flags on Independence Day and Republic Day. The aim is that these ‘green warriors’ will spill these seeds in the garden and wait for a new sapling to come up like new hope that brings a lot of joy. I can take pride in saying that I have inspired a few generations of ‘green ambassadors’. Let the thoughts of green prevail everywhere!
The author is former senior principal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Currently, she is the Director (Academics) Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad Kendra. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.