Practicing What I Preach

By Archana KR

My name is Archana K R. I have been working in Reap Benefit as a ‘Local Problem Solver’ for the last 6 months. I joined the organization as I have an interest in social work. I was impressed with the work done by Reap Benefit in the past as it is very close to my own values.

Every day I see social, environmental and civic problems surrounding me and I ask myself, ‘Am I part of the problem or am I part of the solution?’.

I engage with government school children, school authorities and community around these schools on a daily basis. I motivate them to solve local environmental and civic issues that they face. I guide them in solving their own problems.

We have a process here at Reap Benefit called ‘DISC’ — which stands for Discover, Investigate, Solve and Communicate. At any school, we first ‘discover’ a problem — say a tap has too much water flowing from it. We then ‘investigate’ this problem — in this case, by calculating flow rate of the tap — to actually understand that there is a high flow rate. We ‘solve’ this problem which in the given case would be by installing an aerator to reduce the flow rate. We then complete the loop by ‘communicating’ that this process has taken place. The entire process is gamified — to ensure that student are motivated to go home and practice what they’ve learnt.

Then I thought to myself — Do I practice what I preach? I have solved few problems in my neighbourhood: called local helpline numbers and reported problems. I then realized, in the PG in which I stay, we lack waste management .We do not segregate dry waste, wet waste and sanitary waste. This was my own ‘discover’ story.

I then ‘investigated’ the problem and realized that we create 2 kgs of dry waste and 7 kgs of wet waste everyday? I did a total waste audit of my PG. I realized that the main problem is that there aren’t sufficient dustbins to segregate waste in each floor.

Pre-intervention: Cooked leftovers accompany biscuit wrappers in the waste bin

I decided to ‘solve’ this issue. I asked few of my PG mates to donate unused buckets. I kept 2 buckets on each floor and 1 dustbin for sanitary waste on the ground floor.

Post-intervention: Plastic and food waste are disposed separately

I then ‘communicated’ these efforts to my PG mates.

The impact was waste segregation, reuse of dry waste and disposal of wet waste to BBMP pourakarmikas. Therefore, today I can confidently say that I ‘practice what I preach’.

I believe that small initiatives make a big difference. I take pride in sharing my experience with children. I’m proud to say that I’m a change agent. Anyone can practice waste segregation. There is no need to spend more money to bring any extra materials. It is all about our behavioral change.

Incidentally, I also asked the pourakarmikas what problems they face. They said that irresponsible citizens are the biggest problem because they do not segregate waste. This makes the pourakarmika feel disrespected. I think therefore that it is all the more important that all of us segregate our waste.

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