Put Your Hands up for an Eco-World!

Published March 25th, 2019 - 09:32 GMT
Neola Castelino, a Grade 9 student of Our Own English High School, Sharjah, has been making artworks using various recyclables for the last few years. (Khaleej Times)
Neola Castelino, a Grade 9 student of Our Own English High School, Sharjah, has been making artworks using various recyclables for the last few years. (Khaleej Times)

In the ninth part of our series, we're showcasing four projects which prove that today's youth are more eco-conscious than we think.

To make children aware of their planet and its issues has become a universal responsibility for everyone - considering how the world has been drowning in an increasing number of environmental challenges. In the UAE, a country that has been striving to become a role model for the new green economy, students are not just studying science: They are leading eco-conversations, finding solutions, and working out creative ways to protect and preserve nature.

Khaleej Times reached out to them and learned how they are dealing with the plastic problem.

Three students from Our Own High School, Al Warqa'a, developed an autonomous garbage truck that can sort wastes.

Grade 8 students Jaden Pereira, Ayman Mohammed and Amit George named their robot 'The MSV', which stands for 'mechanised sanitation vehicle'.

Running on solar energy or bio fuel, the truck can go around the city on its own to collect trash and sort them appropriately.

It has a built-in GPS system that guides its way around and a compartment where different types of garbage are stored. Periodically, it releases trash onto its 'material sorting belt' for segregation. Plastic, paper, cans and organic wastes are kept in separate storage bins in the truck. The segregated garbage will then be transported to recycling plants and other areas where they can be disposed of properly.

The trio said they felt compelled to create a solution to reduce plastic pollution after learning about the magnitude of the problem from the awareness workshops in their school and the campaigns run by the media.

Teen starts a global green foundation

Teenager Kehkashan Basu was just eight years old when she organised her first recycling campaign in her Dubai neighbourhood. In 2012, Basu founded Green Hope to collect and segregate wastes, clean up beaches and hold awareness events. Her organisation now has branches in 10 countries and a total of over 1,000 volunteers.

Green Hope creates the much-needed awareness about the threats of plastic pollution and why single-use plastics have to be avoided and banned completely. Volunteers set up workshops and environment academies and go around communities to educate children - from city centres to rural villages and even in refugee camps.

"We use cloth bags and jute bags and promote their use at these workshops. We carry only reusable water bottles wherever we go and we encourage people to follow our lead," Basu said.

When the group found out that some plastics cannot be recycled, they began promoting the concept of upcycling. They taught participants how to turn plastics into jewellery, decor and wearables.

Dubai campus goes plastic-free

Recognising the environmental burden brought about by single-use plastics, GEMS Modern Academy decided to work towards making their campus plastic-free. Single-use plastic water bottles, cups and plates, in particular, have been banned from the campus. Besides this move, everyone in the school's community - from the preschoolers to the senior students and even the mums - does their bit to support the academy's eco-drive.

Last year, children and parents helped clean up Kite Beach through an initiative that was organised by Spectacular8 mums - a group of eight mothers from GEMS Modern - along with ABCD (A Beach Clean-up Dubai). The cigarette butts that they collected were used to create 'Tilly the Turtle', an artwork that has been travelling across Dubai to raise awareness about how wastes are affecting marine life.

Senior students, on the other hand, visited several restaurants in their respective districts in a bid to promote the 'No Straw Campaign'. Through this programme, seventeen outlet managers pledged their support towards the cause and signed the students' petition.

Grade 9 kid turns trash into art

Neola Castelino, a Grade 9 student of Our Own English High School, Sharjah, has been making artworks using various recyclables for the last few years.
In the last five years, Castelino managed to collect more than 15,000kg of newspapers, 4,000kg of aluminum cans, and 6,100 plastic bottles, mostly from nearby restaurants and cafeterias and also from public parks.

The 14-year-old's green hobby started when she created a small logo out of bottle caps, which was appreciated by a lot of people. This motivated her to do more artworks and invest more time in the activity. Before recycling plastic bottles and cans, Castelino removes the caps and tabs and collects them for her next project. She also uses empty tissue rolls and bread tags.

"Each of these, when put together, makes beautiful art. I usually use them for events like UAE National day, UAE Flag Day, World Peace Day, Ramadan, and morE. My school has also displayed my artwork (a UAE flag made of tissue rolls). When I need to make a bigger art display, I use the grass in the park or the sand in the desert to make my artwork look closer to earth," she said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright © 2019 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.

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