Members of the Interact Club at GSIS have conducted a number of advocacy initiatives and awareness campaigns around issues impacting the environment. With the motive to create and spread the message of ‘Plastic Ban’ in Ooty, our members made DIY paper bags and distributed them to small vendors in the Ooty Market.
Club members also divided themselves into groups to give presentations on significant days like World Wetland Day, Hindi Divas, French Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Taking the service up a notch, members of the club participated in the ‘Green Coonoor’ project where they planted over 300 saplings on the marshy lands in Ooty. Our team was recognized by the Rotary Club of Nilgiris West, Clean Coonoor, and Rotary International.
As part of our ongoing Green Programme, students of Good Shepherd International School partnered with the NGO ‘Clean Coonoor Team’ to initiate the Wetland Restoration Programme on World Water Day, March 22, 2019.
In the vast green lands that encompass the commercial town of Coonoor, one can hardly find anything amiss: the eucalyptus trees rise regally above the grass beneath; the tea plantations glisten under the morning sun; the quaint Lantana flowers blossom in natural spirit. Yet, beyond this superficial ecological flourishment, there lurks a dark truth unknown to the inhabitants of the town that cripples not only the present ecology of the district but blurs future prospects of environmental prosperity. The evasive truth is that all the plants mentioned above, while seemingly glamorous, are invasive species – aliens – colonising this land and driving out the ecologically more contributive, native species from the district.
On Word Water Day, The Green Team of GSIS comprising 30 students proceeded to the Yedapalli Marshlands where they met the team from ‘Clean Coonoor’ to learn about the importance of marshlands and native species. Initially, upon arrival, the students were veritably puzzled as to how learning about native species held significance to World Water Day, the two seeming thoroughly unconnected. Yet, all doubts were soon dispelled by a ‘Clean Coonoor’ volunteer who explained that the marshland is a key component of the district ecosystem, retaining water which in turn supports various forms of life that thrive there. This property of water retention is most instrumentally sustained by the presence of native Shola grass which restricts surface runoff and allows for soil penetration. However, with the intrusion of invasive species like Lantana, which do not have soil-fortifying roots, the rate of surface runoff and soil erosion increases, diminishing the very essence of marshlands. Both appalled and intrigued by this, the students began a short excursion across the marshland, identifying the various species (both invasive and native) inhabiting the region and noting the visible depreciation of the marshland.
Soon after this exercise, the students began their planned course of action: planting native Shola grass saplings in the marshlands in replacement of uprooted invasive species. Without a moment of hesitation, the students put on their gloves, boots and immersed themselves in the service, relishing taking part in an activity that seemed exciting as well as constructive. With their mighty enthusiasm, the students along with Team Clean Coonoor, planted over a 1000 Shola grass pods, contributing to the marshland’s much awaited process of recuperation. Having completed the task, the participants returned with a profound sense of enlightenment and invigoration, gaining knowledge that not only supplements their curricular study but empowers them and others to be more sensitive about the environment in which they live.
It makes us immensely proud to see our students raising awareness about issues impacting the environment. Our IGCSE GRADE 10 students Shubh Dulhani, Rishi Rohith V Guna, Manav Thakkar, and Om Kakadiya formed the team ‘Crop Plastic’ for their Global Perspectives team element. Having chosen ‘Plastic Pollution’ as the main issue to discuss in this project, they are researching the effects of plastic waste on soil and agriculture. They came up with the name ‘Crop Plastic’ because their research revolves around the effect of plastic waste on crops, and the aim of the project is to crop plastic out of the picture.
“Untreated plastic just lies around various places and accumulates in the soil, preventing the growth of plants. We found that until 2018, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been manufactured in various forms, out of which, 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been turned into plastic waste, and only 9% of plastic had been recycled. Through our research, we hope to spread awareness about the seriousness of this issue and take a step towards reducing the use of plastic products by using alternatives such as paper and bamboo.”