Green Cities

Saving the Rubbish…on Earth Day

Swabhav (meaning “personality,” “character” or “nature”), an NGO based in Kolkata, is essentially a creative learning centre, housed in a wonderful old building teaming with a range of activities, including dance, handicrafts, music, theatre, yoga and computers. Earth Day Network-India was proud to partner with them on a creative educational event at one of Kolkata’s cultural landmarks. Members of Swabhav have always challenged the hierarchies of age, class, gender, teacher-student, host-and-guest, etc. They are strong advocates for cooperation over competition and of use and re-use / recycle instead of use-and-throw-away. This, in their vocabulary, is “kabaad se jugaad,” loosely meaning “wealth out of waste.” On Earth Day, Swabhav organized a Kabaad se Jugaad workshop at one of the oldest and most well-known book stores in Kolkata, the Oxford Book Store. The store is a famous landmark of Kolkata, managed by the Apeejay Surrendra Group. Kolkata has always been a city of books. And since the 1920s, Oxford Bookstore has been part of Kolkata’s cultural and intellectual life. So when Earth Day Network-India approached Ms. Maina Bhagat, the director of Oxford Book Store, with the idea of this unique workshop, we were delighted that she immediately and graciously agreed to host it. Team Swabhav, led by Ms. Vartika Poddar, a dynamic young innovator committed to work on development and sustainability, held the workshop with a group of lively, active children and a few adults who learned to make diaries with one-side-used paper and to do beautiful quilling (paper coiling) with old cards and envelopes. Both the kids and the adults loved learning what proved to be a very creative, innovative and constructive skill of making useful items from so-called waste material that we would otherwise throw away.