The Walt Disney Company (India), CMS Environment and Exnora Green Pammal Celebrate Earth Day with Students

On 15 April, The Walt Disney Company (India) joined Exnora Green Pammal, CMS Environment and students from Sarada Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal, and Teresa Convent School, Palaavaram, to celebrate Earth Day.

Environmental conservation is the cornerstone of the Walt Disney Company’s Global Outreach initiatives. So it was natural that representatives of Disney’s office in Chennai, through CMS Environment, requested Exnora Green Pammal to organize an Earth Day celebration that would give young people a hands-on opportunity to help the environment. The Walt Disney Company and Exnora Green Pammal share a determination to involve young people in environmental conservation and protection. The Walt Disney Company does this through ‘Friends for Change: Project Green’ as a part of Disney’s Signature Project for India. Through Friends for Change: Project Green, Disney donated $1 million to conservation projects in 15 countries in 2010. Exnora Green Pammal educates and mobilizes students for environmental stewardship through our Green Generation Programme, which has reached over 4,000 students in 50 schools in India.

CMS Environment is a Delhi-based think tank working towards enhancing corporate understanding and responsibility on environmental issues through their unique and innovative employee engagement programmes. It has successfully launched employee engagement campaigns for several corporate houses throughout the country. Focussing on environmental issues in the immediate neighbourhood through these activities employees are involved in the community by contributing their time and skills with their company’s encouragement and support.

On the morning of 15 April, representatives of the Walt Disney Company, the staff of Exnora Green Pammal, representatives of Engineers Without Borders Australia, and students from Sarada Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal, and Teresa Convent School, Palaavaram, celebrated Earth Day in Pammal by planting trees and recycling arakia nut palm leaves into plates and dishes.

Dr Bhavani Shankar explains arakia nut leaf pressing process to Sathish Kumar, Shamalatha Devi and Vijay Mohan from Disney

Dr Bhavani Shankar and Ms. Mangalam Balasubramanian (center) explain arakia nut leaf pressing process to Sathish Kumar, Shamalatha Devi and Vijay Mohan from Disney

The students and visitors were fascinated to see how Exnora Green Pammal’s presses convert arakia nut palm leaves into useful and commercially-valuable eco-friendly plates and dishes for picnics and public gatherings. In addition to pressing the leaves, the presses heat the leaves so the plates and dishes maintain their shape. This heating process is powered with electricity generated by Exnora Green Pammal’s quarter-ton biogas plant, which converts kitchen waste into methane gas, and then to electricity.

EGP staff demonstrate the arakia nut leaf press

EGP staff demonstrate the arakia nut leaf press

The sharp sunshine and intense heat didn’t deter people from enthusiastically taking tools to the soil and planting saplings. Each sapling was fertilized with Exorco vermicompost, which Exnora Green Pammal produces out of biodegradable waste from homes in Pammal. Home owners and residents of the neighborhood were invited to participate, and given the responsibility of nurturing the saplings until they become established.

Vijay Anand, Disney account manager, excavates a pit

Vijay Anand, Disney account manager, excavates a pit

Vijay Anand prepares pit with Exnora Green Pammal's Exorco vermicompost

Vijay Anand prepares a pit with Exnora Green Pammals Exorco vermicompost

Disney VoluntEARS Sathish Kumar and Vijay Mohan sink a stake to support a sapling

Disney VoluntEARS Sathish Kumar and Vijay Mohan sink a stake to support a sapling

EGP's N. Ravi and Disney VoluntEAR Vijay Anand support a sapling

EGPs N. Ravi and Disney VoluntEAR Vijay Anand support a sapling

Vijay Mohan and Vijay Anand install a protective basket

Vijay Mohan and Vijay Anand install a protective basket

Sathish Kumar and Vijay Mohan

Disney VoluntEARS Sathish Kumar (right) and Vijay Mohan (left)

Vijay Mohan watering a sapling

Vijay Mohan watering a sapling

Disney VoluntEAR Sajita and Engineers Without Borders Australia Field Volunteer Rosie Sanderson plant a sapling

Disney VoluntEAR Sajita and Engineers Without Borders Australia Field Volunteer Rosie Sanderson plant a sapling

Disney VoluntEAR Syamalatha prepares pit with Exorco vermicompost

Disney VoluntEAR Syamalatha Devi prepares a pit with Exorco vermicompost

Shyamalatha Devi watering a sapling

Shyamalatha Devi watering a sapling

Jai Allison, Engineers Without Borders Australia Field Officer, softens a pit

Jai Allison, Engineers Without Borders Australia Field Officer, softens a pit

Jai Allison moves soil

Jai Allison moves soil

Jai Allison waters a sapling

Jai Allison waters a sapling

Green Generation volunteers from Sarada Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal

Green Generation volunteers from Sarada Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal

The tree planting paused for a group portrait

The tree planting paused for a group portrait

Engineers Without Borders, Rosie Sanderson and Jai Allison with Green Generation volunteers

Australian Engineers Without Borders, Rosie Sanderson and Jai Allison, with Pammal friends

Representatives of The Walt Disney Company and Engineers Without Borders Australia with Dr. Bhavani Shankar and Ms. Mangalam Balasubramanian at Exnora Green Pammal's biogas plant in Pammal

Representatives of The Walt Disney Company and Engineers Without Borders Australia with Dr. Bhavani Shankar and Ms. Mangalam Balasubramanian at Exnora Green Pammals biogas plant in Pammal

After the work was done, everybody enjoyed a locally-prepared meal during which we discussed plans for future collaboration to increase young people’s environmental awareness.

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New Video About EGP’s Green Generation Programme

A new video about Exnora Green Pammal’s Green Generation Programme has been posted on YouTube. Click on this link to view the video about Exnora Green Pammal’s partnership with schools to teach students about conservation, recycling and waste management.

The video was produced by Rosie Sanderson, an Engineers Without Borders-Australia volunteer who is spending a year with Exnora Green Pamml.

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A Meeting With Kate Hanisian and Ramsey Ford of Design Impact

On Friday, February 4th, we held a much anticipated meeting with Kate Hanisian and Ramsey Ford, directors of Design Impact , a Cincinnati-based non profit organization dedicated to exploring ways designers can respond to social and environmental challenges, such as poverty, public health and renewable energy. Design Impact’s fellowship program partners design professionals with NGOs to collaborate in product development and innovation. Design fellows contribute specific design services, like brainstorming, prototyping, test marketing and visualization, augmented by organizational development and capacity building services provided by Design Impact’s staff and associates.

After discovering Design Impact’s great blog last year, we contacted Kate and Ramsey to learn more about Design Impact’s work with the Organization for Development Action and Maintenance (ODAM) in Thiruchuli, Tamil Nadu. Design Impact has collaborated with ODAM to develop and commercialize handmade soap and charcoal briquettes. After our discussion, Kate and Ramsey visited Exnora Green Pammal’s biogas plant, and spoke with EGP’s ecologist, Dr. Bhavani Shankar, and microbiologist, Vijay Bhaskar, about the biogas plant and EGP’s charcoal briquette efforts. We hope that a fruitful partnership will develop between Exnora Green Pammal and Design Impact.

Vijay Bhaskar, Dr. Bhavani Shankar, Ramsey Ford and Kate Hanisian discuss the charcoal production chamber

Vijay Bhaskar, Dr. Bhavani Shankar, Ramsey Ford and Kate Hanisian discuss the charcoal production chamber

Ramsey Ford, Kate Hanisian and Dr. Bhavani Shankar at EGP's biogas plant

Ramsey Ford, Kate Hanisian and Dr. Bhavani Shankar at EGP's biogas plant

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More Photos of the Playground Clean Up with Students and Disney Staff

Here are more photos of last Thursday’s event, a clean up of the playground at the Suriamman temple in Pammal. Staff of Disney, and students from the Sri Sankara Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pammal, teamed up with Exnora Green Pammal staff to clean and paint the children’s playground.

Slashing Weeds with Swords

Slashing Weeds with Swords

S. Siddharth and Classmates Beautifying the Playground

S. Siddharth, Classmates and Disney Staff Beautifying the Playground

Playground Equipment Was Sanded with Lots of Elbow Grease

Playground Equipment Was Sanded with Lots of Elbow Grease

U. V. Suresh Sands the Top Bars of the Jungle Gym

U. V. Suresh Sands the Top Bars of the Jungle Gym

This Crew Used No Power Tools or Fossil Fuel

This Crew Used No Power Tools or Fossil Fuel

The Walls Were Freshly Whitewashed

The Walls Were Freshly Whitewashed

The Equipment Was Painted Colorfully

The Equipment Was Painted Colorfully

U. V. Suresh and EGP's Mrs. E. Mariammal

U. V. Suresh and EGP's Mrs. E. Mariammal

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EGP, Disney Staff, Students and Volunteers Spruce Up a Pammal Playground

On 17 December, staff of the Walt Disney Company (India) celebrated Disney’s anniversary by volunteering for a cause. Staff from Disney’s Chennai and Mumbai offices joined hands with Exnora Green Pammal and 11th-grade students from Sri Sankara Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School to spruce up a playground at the Suriamman Temple in Pammal.

Disney has made conserving the environment a cornerstone of the company’s outreach efforts. In the summer of 2009, Disney launched Friends for Change: Project Green in the US, an initiative encouraging kids to protect the planet across four key areas: climate, water, waste and habitats. Through Friends for Change: Project Green, Disney donated $1 million to conservation projects in 15 countries.  In 2011, Disney will launch Friends for Change: Project Green in India.

Curious by passers paused and watched as seven Disney staff, twelve students, Engineers Without Borders Volunteer, Rosie Sanderson, and EGP’s crew sanded and painted playground equipment, and removed trash and vegetation. Despite the hard work, everyone was surprised by how much they enjoyed the event.

Afterward, our friends from Disney visited EGP’s biogas plant for a tour and explanation of the facility that generates electricity from kitchen waste.

We are extremely grateful to the students from Sri Sankara Vidyalaya School and Disney (India) for working with us on this great project. Special thanks to Charlie Sanderson, brother of Engineers Without Borders (Australia) Volunteer, Rosie Sanderson. Charlie is visiting Rosie, and he cheerfully joined us for the work.

Clearing vegetation from the playground

Getting Started by Clearing Vegetation

Engineer Without Borders Volunteer, Rosie Sanderson

Engineer Without Borders Volunteer, Rosie Sanderson

Vijay Anand, Key Account Manager, Disney India, and Rosie Sanderson Paint the Jungle Gym

Vijay Anand, Key Account Manager, Disney India, and Rosie Sanderson Paint the Jungle Gym

R. Venkat Ramana, Director, Channel Distribution, Disney India, and Vijay Anand Paint the Merry-Go-Round

R. Venkat Ramana, Director, Channel Distribution, Disney India, and Vijay Anand Paint the Merry-Go-Round

A Tractor Load of Vegetation Was Removed from the Playground

A Tractor Load of Vegetation Was Removed from the Playground

Rosie Sanderson Painting the Gate

Rosie Sanderson Painting the Gate

Class President, U. V. Suresh, Paints the Playground's Wall

Class President, U. V. Suresh, Paints the Playground's Wall

Suman Rathnam Paints the Slide

Suman Rathnam Paints the Slide

Freshly Painted Playground Equipment

Freshly Painted Playground Equipment

Looking Like New

Looking Like New

The Entire Crew

The Entire Crew

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Kodaikanal’s Ban on Plastic Bags and Cups Dramatically Reduces Litter

“Say Good-Bye to Polythene Bags and Cups,” a sign announces in Tamil and English beside one of the final hairpin bends in the two hour climb to Kodaikanal, a hill station at 2,000 metres atop Tamil Nadu’s Palani hills. Upon entering Kodai, the dramatic impact of the municipality’s two year old ban on disposable plastic bags and cups is immediately evident. Plastic litter is noticeably absent from Kodai’s beautiful lake, streets and forested hillsides. Also not present are heaps of smoldering rubbish–a common sight and smell in most Indian localities.

The ban’s impact is easy to assess: just look at Kodai’s horribly polluted neighboring localities that have no ban. At Pillar Rocks, a popular tourist destination six kilometers from Kodai, plastic trash is strewn throughout the vegetation, and patches of scorched plastic blemish the landscape

Many localities have banned plastic carrybags, but few enforce their ban. For example, Pondicherry’s ban exists in word only: every shop packs goods in plastic bags—sometimes in more than one bag—mocking the government’s rule. Pondicherry’s officials make no effort to enforce the ban.

In contrast, Kodaikanal’s ban demonstrates that life is not only possible without plastic bags: it is even better without them.

Kodaikanal’s merchants report that municipal authorities regularly conduct inspections and issue intimidating fines to shops that violate the ban.

Plastic bags have become so pervasive that it is difficult to imagine life without them. Some argue that we must accept plastic bags because “we can’t turn back the clock.” But Kodaikanal’s ban demonstrates that life is not only possible without plastic bags: it is even better without them.

A remarkable variety of goods can be packed in paper bags made of old newspaper.

say goodbye to plastic cups and bags

Ban Ahead!

Burnt garbage at Pillar Rocks

Scorched Plastic Isn't Far from View at Pillar Rocks

 

Vendor Packing Avacado in Paper Bag

Vendor Packing Avacado in Paper Bag

Chocolate Being Packed in Newspaper Bag

Chocolate Packed in Newspaper Bag

Coffee Beans Are Packed in Paper at Fatima Coffee Works

Coffee Beans Are Packed in Paper at Fatima Coffee Works

Bags Made From Old Newspapers at a Fruit Vendor's Stall

Bags Made From Old Newspapers at a Fruit Vendor's Stall

Spices Get Bagged in Paper

Spices Get Bagged in Paper

Citronella Oil Bagged in Paper

Citronella Oil Bagged in Paper

Boxes of Plums Packed in Paper

Boxes of Plums Packed in Paper

Fruit Vendor in Kodaikanal

Fruit Vendor in Kodaikanal

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