Got a Problem? Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work

We can see problems in almost anything around us, it can be the political system, environmental pollution, the never ending corruption or any other thing for that fact. But everyone can point out flaws as finding problems is not that difficult. The real question is, how many of us try to solve those problems? We do not take up the courage to do something about the issues which seem obvious to us. We have become used to the idea of blaming others for every single problem that we see.

Luckily, I got to test the power of individual actions as a project in my Amal Fellowship and I was stunned by the impact that just a single individual can make on others. We planned in a group of 3 but we implemented the solutions individually as well. Our group consisted of Adnan, Awais and Zubair.

The problem we identified after a whole lot of discussion was the ever increasing environmental pollution in our surroundings. In a country like Pakistan, we are quite used to the idea of seeing litter everywhere we go. Although residential areas can be a bit better but squares and other public places are teeming with wrappers and shopping bags.

The worse kind are the fruit peels, which can knock someone over his head if someone accidentally trips on one of them.

So we definitely felt a burning need to try to come up with solutions which could convince people so that they do not throw trash anywhere they go.

After an exhausting brainstorming session, we had a lot of solutions to try but we handpicked the following 3 solutions which we were going to implement.

  1. Talk to at least 15 different type of strangers on the road and ask them what they do with the wrappers when they are finished eating something? And depending on their responses, convince them to care for their environment as well.
  2. Wear plastic gloves and pick trash from public places when some people are passing nearby so they can see that ordinary people like them are picking trash. The purpose would be to target their morality and urge them not to drop wrappers the next time they have some on their hands.
  3. Gift plastic bags and small packets to strangers which can be folded and stored in pockets with ease. Tell the persons to always carry a spare envelope or bag with them so that whenever they have trash, they can keep collecting it in the bag until they come across a trashcan and can drop the bag in that can.

Each of the solutions had it’s own significance. The first solution was the easiest to implement as we only had to ask people if they had a few minutes for a small chat and then we started talking about the issue. And it was very well received as well, but honestly speaking, such type of pep talks might be discarded by the people rather soon after they listened to it.

And the 2nd solution was in essence a refinement of the first one. Instead of speaking through our words we decided to speak through our actions. We tried to dress properly for this activity and then wore plastic gloves and started picking wrappers and other trash items from places where a lot of people were strolling nearby. Some people stopped to ask, who we were and why we were doing it? and we explained to them that we were students from different Universities and we were doing these activities voluntarily to create awareness in people.

The 3rd and final solution worked amazing as well. We made pairs of different sizes of folded plastic and paper bags and gifted them to people while explaining why they would need them. We told people that we totally understood the lack of trashcans on most public places. We explained that instead of waiting for the Govt. to take action, we have decided to solve the issue on our own. We told everyone that they should gather all their wrappers and other waste items in a bag until they pass near a trashcan and then they can discard the entire bag.

All solutions worked really great although the 2nd and 3rd worked a bit better than the 1st one. We cannot handpick one of them as the best solution but we can say that if we had to try again, we might go for a solution which would include the activities of both solutions. We have learned that when we give someone a gift, his heart becomes open to whatever we have to say.

We have identified a problem and tried to solve it on our own and trust us, it was a much better received experience than we imagined. Maybe you could also try it sometime and see how it goes for you.