Waste is everywhere and is generated from all aspects of society all over the world. Waste, and how it is managed, can wreak havoc on our world and create long-lasting damage. In its 2018 report entitled What a Waste 2.0 : A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050, the World Bank anticipated that unless urgent action was taken, global annual waste generation would increase by 70 percent from 2016 levels in 2050. Each one of us can start to make a difference today by reducing, reusing and recycling materials at home and in our communities, and by encouraging our neighbours to do the same. Whilst we cannot prevent waste entirely, each of us can reduce and manage waste more efficiently.
The Aga Khan Education Service, India is conscious about environmental conservation and is taking steps to highlight and instil awareness across all its schools. The Aga Khan School, Mundra provides opportunities through an Eco Club where students plant trees, hold environmental awareness rallies and put on street plays for the community about reducing plastic use. They also recycle plastic to make useful objects such as tiles and bring in a plant to grow at the school to commemorate birthdays.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a newfound awareness of the importance of handwashing. Keeping this in mind, along with the concept of reducing, reusing and recycling in everyday life, school staff pioneered the innovative idea of building a handwashing station from materials such as an unused water tank, 20-litre filtered water bottles and waste construction materials such as iron rods.
The team reused the water tank to hold the fresh water for the handwashing station and used the 20-litre water bottles as washbasins by cutting out the bottom of the bottle and connecting the mouth to a drainage outlet. The central collection unit was made from an old PVC pipe left over from previous construction work. The team improvised and added taps in different directions, so that those using the station could maintain their distance from one another. When school physically resumes, this handwashing station will greet visitors, students and staff at the school’s entrance.
Akbar Khoja, a staff member who was instrumental in creating the station said, “Many ideas were running through my mind when I was working on this. I am happy that we were successful in making this handwashing station and I will use such ideas to create many more reusable items in the future.”
During the pandemic, when both safety and cost-consciousness are crucial, the Eco Club and the handwashing station exemplify the culture of Aga Khan schools, and exhibit both creativity and environmental awareness. These activities also reflect the Aga Khan Development Network’s commitment to using science and research to create a better quality of life, both today and for future generations.