Dr. S. Mahadevan, Deputy Dean, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus, said, ''In our canteen, even before this initiative was announced by the state government, we decided to go plastic-free — almost a year ago, in fact. We are using only steel glasses, plates and spoons. Even during the recently held three-day international conference, we had zero plastic usage."
Following the directive from the state government to completely ban single-use plastics from January 2019, many colleges have already taken steps and some are in the process of finding ways to totally banish plastic from the campus, and also advising students to say no to plastic outside the college as well. Dr. S. Mahadevan, Deputy Dean, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus, said, "In our canteen, even before this initiative was announced by the state government, we decided to go plastic-free — almost a year ago, in fact. We are using only steel glasses, plates and spoons. Even during the recently held three-day international conference, we had zero plastic usage."
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus, emerged on top of the Swachhta Campus Rankings 2018 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, in the category of Technical Institutions/ Universities (Residential). The competition saw participation from more than 6000 institutes across the country. The ranking is based on the appreciable participation of the campuses of the country in taking environmental science lessons beyond the walls of classroom and apply to the day-to-day lives.
Maya Mahajan, Associate Professor at Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore Campus, engaged the tribal people to turn these Lantana weeds into beautiful, and highly durable furniture. Lantana furniture has gained popularity in the urban market, which is, in turn, is generating good revenue for the aboriginal communities of forested areas in Tamil Nadu. “Through my research project on the forest product harvesting, I have had close interaction with the tribal inhabitants of Siruvani, Mudumalai, Wayanad and Silent Valley. I shared a good rapport with the communities. Yet when I approached them with the proposal of making furniture from Lantana, they were reluctant, doubting its feasibility,” shared Maya.
Six months ago, under the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham started a 60-day certification course in making lantana furniture. While the project was begun to empower tribals, now they are also looking to reach others, said Mahajan. “We are also trying to replicate the programme in other parts of the country,” she said.
Residents of Seengapathi, a tribal settlement in Boluvampatti forest range, were first exposed to making dolls and chairs from lantana through a project funded by science for equity, empowerment and development (SEED) under the department of science and technology in 2015. The programme was facilitated by the Center for Sustainable Future, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The center has now helped residents start the ‘Siruvani Lantana Craft Center’, a partnership firm with those who have been trained in furniture making, said Maya Mahajan, an associate professor from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, who coordinates the project. The use of lantana to make furniture was a win-win situation as the plant is an invasive species which has been creating ecological problems in the Western Ghats, she said.