O ur Green Trails Fellows at Jaubhari are working tirelessly to convert it into a green model village.
Let me tell you what I mean by a model green village.
- A village that has a proper waste segregation system in place.
- A village where plastic bag usage is an absolute zero. Villagers who know how to preserve their rich eco-diversity and encourage greener alternatives.
- A village whose children are aware of basic environmental science and contribute to awareness programmes.
- A village where people self-sustain their waste management processes locally.
It is indeed sad to see commercialization attract tourists that further worsen this situation.
Our Green Trails team is consciously trying to change these scenarios at Jaubhari, in order to make it a role model for the nearby villages.
What’s more is that they have been able to scale up their efforts in the nearby village of Maneybhanjan as well.
I spoke to our fellows last Saturday and here is my account of their amazing work done.
In this article, I will tell you 6 practical ways that helped us in real-life scenarios, quoting instances and examples.
I am sure these ways will help you in setting up a green model village.
Jaubhari, Sandakphu Trek, West Bengal
Last week, Smriti and Anas worked with the locals to finalise a convenient waste disposal infrastructure for the village. This is the first step to organize the mismanagement of waste.
1 Every family will now have a second dustbin
Until now each family had a plastic drum to put in all their waste. There was no segregation being done.
So it was decided that a second dustbin will ensure the basic dry and wet waste segregation.
2 Asia’s Cleanest Village, Mawlynnong, inspires villagers from Jaubhari
From our past experience, we have learnt that showing interactive videos on waste management in local languages is a massive hit.
Such video sessions have a direct impact on the thought process of villagers.
Last week, our team showed the villagers of Jaubari a video on how Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong organises its waste management system.
A discussion ensued about how waste can be managed in Jaubhari. Anas and Smriti went over the use of dustbins to segregate dry and wet waste.
Following this, our team demonstrated how certain waste can be recycled. They took examples of bottle bricks and eco-pillows that can be made using plastic waste.
This was eye-opening for the villagers. They were extremely responsive and keen to participate. Eleven people immediately signed up for Smriti’s eco-pillow workshop to be organised in the following week!
3 Workshop at Maneybhanjan school reveals environmental ignorance
It was a happening week at the Maneybhanjan local school.
Maneybhanjan is a village just 2 km from our base camp in Jaubhari.
When Anas and Smriti went to the local school, the science teacher mentioned that the children are having a craft competition in the near future. She was keen that the students practice art and craft projects related to environmental sustainability.
Smriti and Anas saw this as a great opportunity to teach eco-awareness through creative and engaging activities.
Soon, the teachers agreed to have a “waste management and upcycling” themed competition.
Our fellows introduced the students to different ideas for upcycling and how to reduce plastic usage. They also organised a bottle bricks workshop.
To gauge their learning, our team asked children to make charts illustrating their understanding of the theme.
The workshop revealed that the students had no knowledge of waste production, management or the consequences of improper waste disposal.
They lacked the basic understanding of waste management. It was not something that crossed their minds!
Yet, Smriti saw that the students were keen to learn. The reason was that nobody had ever taught them about this topic.
A situation that can be easily rectified given that we nip the problem in the bud.
Smriti discussed with the school authorities to have more workshops on a regular basis to engage the students in interactive sessions. She plans to slowly create awareness, teach basics of waste management and practice recycling activities with the students.
Smriti will then expand her outreach to hold awareness workshops for schools at all the three regional schools on regular basis.
4 Controlling the plastic bag menace
Along with the lack of educational awareness, villagers had an ignorant attitude towards consumption and waste generation. This is especially a problem that favours the usage of plastic bags.
Our Green Trails fellows agreed that one major starting point should be to introduce cloth bags in shops. They will assess if making cloth bags from left-over material at the local tailor shop is a viable option.
In the past, we have made reusable cloth bags from our camp material at Lohajung with much success.
5 Waste Survey for villages on the Sandakphu trail
Another very important part of waste management is keeping the latest account of generated waste and subsequent handling.
We firmly believe in the philosophy of ‘What gets measured, gets managed’.
Trek Leader Rajkumar and Green Trails fellow Anas are currently on the Sandakphu trek. During the trek, they plan to interact with the locals and find out the type and amount of waste generated. They will return this week with the survey responses and an understanding of the general mindset. If the locals are willing to partly contribute to transport their waste to the landfill, we will put in our full efforts to facilitate it.
6 Logistical reports on new Segregation unit submitted to DFO
For those of you who are not aware, our Green Trails team were able to convince the District Forest Officer of the need for a waste segregation unit.
This unit is necessary because currently all the waste from Sandakphu Trek is segregated on roadsides. Unexpected rainfalls further worsen this situation. The DFO heard our case and agreed to build a segregation unit using bamboo and other green alternatives.
Our team has worked out the logistics and the estimates for the segregation unit which is to be set up in the coming weeks. We have submitted the reports to the Forest Department. The expected time frame is one month. This will be instrumental in setting up the full-scale waste management system for Sandakphu trek.
That will be all from Jaubhari. I hope the story of our efforts at Jaubhari gave you different ideas in keeping your surroundings clean and your villages cleaner.
Let us know if you have any new and innovative way to tackle waste. Scroll down to comment section and shoot your thoughts. Looking forward to interacting.
What you should do now
1. If you want to serve as a Green Trails Intern: Read this article by our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi.
2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.
3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.
4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.