September 29, 2010
Chancellor Amma’s 57th birthday satsang was unique for its emphasis on cleanliness and green initiatives. Amma announced a special summons to all of India. “Cleanliness is Godliness,” she declared.
Stressing on the need to maintain the sanctity of nature, Amma called for a massive cleaning drive. Her words were put into practice simultaneously as she spoke, by student volunteers who collected waste food, paper cups and plastic while the birthday celebrations were in progress.
“Dirtying nature as adults is like peeing on our bed sheets after we have grown up,” Amma reminded the birthday gathering. “Our country may be developing in many ways, but we are lagging behind as far as cleanliness and neatness of surroundings is concerned.”
In recent months, students of the Amritapuri campus have been regularly going on cleanliness drives, picking up and sorting waste from the surroundings over stretches of several kilometers at a time. During the birthday, they were joined by their peers from other campuses as well, in keeping the premises of the celebrations clean.
“This time we placed more waste bins throughout the campus,” explained Akshara, second-year student of engineering at Amritapuri. “We tried to collect litter while the birthday celebrations were going on. I feel very happy to be associated with this work.”
Waste bins were placed near the canteen stalls and other places where food was being served. Students, divided into groups, collected waste paper and plastics, so that these did not litter the grounds. This waste was segregated and collected at the recycling stall put up on one side of the premises.
Food waste was dumped into soil pits; this will be transformed later into compost.
As per Amma’s instruction, no soft plastics were burned. To emphasize innovative methods for recycling, there were stalls that displayed bags made from used plastics.
The entire initiative was led by the students, who worked hand-in-hand with the ashram’s Ecology Department. Charlotte Charsila Field, who is from England, and is part of the Department, commented on the initiative.
“This is a big step towards protecting Mother Nature,” she said. “Amma has talked about using plastic compressors to help with the effective disposal of plastics. For example, there are recycling machines in Japan that compress used soft plastic bags and convert them to bricks, which can be used to build houses.”
“We definitely hope to find alternate ways to recycle non-biodegradable materials,” she emphasized. “Maybe our Amrita students will come up with the solutions.”
They certainly may. A beginning has been made. Unlike previous years, wherein waste was collected and processed only after the completion of the birthday event, students this year, led by example, and collected and sorted waste into paper, plastic and food, throughout the entire event.
They may well now begin to think about designing indigenous machines that will help effectively handle this waste.
Cleaning for Bharat Mata