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Mumbai church-cum-school shares Pope Francis’ concern on environment, treats 90% waste

Oct. 30, 2017

Pope Francis, who once famously said destroying the environment is a sin, has repeatedly urged the world to take measures to reduce global warming. In 2015, the head of Catholic Church released an encyclical on the environment. The 192-page document, sent to bishops across the world, stresses the need to take measures for a greener future.

Closer home in Mumbai’s Jogeshwari (East), the document and the Pope’s pleas became a rallying point for a church-cum-school in 2015. Since then, Infant Jesus Church and School (IJC) in Jogeshwari (East) has saved more than 2,500 kg of waste from going to the city’s overflowing dumping grounds.

Waste generated at the church and school is segregated into organic and dry. While monthly 80 kg of organic waste from IJC — largely food and garden waste — is converted into manure through composting, the monthly output of 40 kg dry waste — paper, plastic and electronics — is sent for recycling with the help of local non-governmental organisations and rag pickers.

This leaves the half-an-acre campus with discarded cloth and bio-medical waste they send to the dumping grounds, accounting for only 10% of the entire waste generated.

To ease the pressure on saturated dumping grounds and air pollution especially in winter, treating waste at source not only helps reduce the quantum of garbage being sent there and saves the tax payers’ money as garbage trucks have to make fewer trips.

“The idea is to become zero garbage by the end of the year,” said Father Felix Rebello, parish priest at the church who led the initiative.

Church members and 1,500 students are enthusiastic participants in the programme.“There is a lot of resistance towards handling waste at source. As responsible citizens, we have to take care of our surroundings so that future generations do not suffer,” said Rebello.

“The idea is to involve the children to make them understand the importance of waste management.”

Apart from doing away with the need to transport garbage to dumping grounds, the processing of garbage also adds benefits to the school. The compost is used as manure (6 kg a month) on the quarter-acre terrace garden. There are fruit plants and vegetables such as spinach, radish and brinjal.

Dry waste such as paper, plastic, metal, e-waste, tetrapak containers are segregated separately and sold to scrap dealers for reuse and recycling. “The rates keep changing but we get about Rs 5 to Rs 7 a kg from them and remaining is sent to NGOs for recycling. Paper waste amounting to 30 kg over two months is handled by the children and is only sent for recycling purposes,” said Father Henry Sequeira, assistant parish priest, adding that e-waste (60 kg) and tetrapaks are collected and sent for recycling twice a year.

As part of the garbage policy, water packaged in plastic bottles, plastic tumblers and plates, bouquets decorated with plastic ribbons, thermocol decorations, gift wrapping papers etc are not allowed on the campus.

The school has also developed eight ‘eco-clubs’ each with 25 students. These groups help parish units like Small Christian communities (SCC) to learn about garbage segregation, composting and recycling dry waste.

“Light a candle instead of cursing darkness. The idea is to get as many people on board to have cleaner tomorrow,” said Father Sequeira.

Source: Hindustan Times



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