April 24, 2011
Fourth Sunday cleanup activities continue. This month, the monthly cleanup was also preceded by the Earth Day celebrations at most campuses.
At Amritapuri, Swami Gyanamritananda Puri officially lit the lamp of celebration. As the chief mentor of Green Friends and AYUDH (Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara), Swamiji had much to tell the gathered students.
“Mother Earth gives us everything — water, air and sufficient food,” Swamiji said. “But increased human intervention has destroyed the rhythm of our planet.”
“You are the future citizens of this planet, any activities for a sustainable environment should begin by your hands, at least today. This is the time to act.”
“Nobody can force you to do anything; it needs to come from your own heart. You don’t need to wait for anybody to initiate action. You do whatever you can, others will follow you.”
As if taking Swamiji’s words to heart, in the afternoon, students planted trees and later attended a workshop on making compost.
Why make compost?
For several reasons. This helps keep biodegradable waste out of the waste stream, reducing pressure on land-fills and open dumps. It creates nutrient-rich manure that can be used to grow plants and trees.
This also helps man play a role in reverentially returning to nature, what was created by nature in the first place. It ensures that the cycle of life becomes complete and goes on.
This is also something Amma is now requesting everyone to begin doing. Using compost, Amma wants people to grow vegetables in their own kitchen gardens. “This way, at least once a week, we can have freshly harvested vegetables, not tainted by chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” she often states.
If space to grow a kitchen garden is not available, Amma reminds people that onions and ginger can easily be grown in used plastic water bottles, with compost. The plastic bottles can have narrow slits for the plants to grow, and can be kept indoors, on window-sills.
As Earth Day 2011 rolled to a close, more students made a resolve to help with composting. Already initiated on their campus, to manage the biodegradable waste brought back during the Fourth Sunday cleanups, this is also something students can initiate in their own homes, during their vacations.
When the next Fourth Sunday rolled around, two days later, and students donned their usual clean-up gear, they were clear about what to do with the biodegradable waste they would collect.
In India, it is estimated that over 60% of all household waste is biodegradable. (Of the rest, most is paper or plastic packaging material.) If this waste can be diverted from the waste stream, can there be any better gift to offer to our Mother Earth?
Let us hope that with our concerted efforts, this can become a reality soon.