Ribhu Vohra and Chandrah Nusselein on how the Pick It Up app will bring the Waste Less initiative to smartphone users
USING card games, puzzles and catchy posters, Waste Less, a non-profit social organisation, is busy initiating waste management awareness in schools throughout the country. Started in 2010, it was initiated by Ribhu Vohra, a hotel management graduate from Netherlands who had resigned his lucrative HR job in Amsterdam to do something worthwhile in his homeland. Born and raised in Auroville, it all started when Vohra teamed up with his sister Chandrah Nusselein (who holds a masters degree in pedagogical sciences), in helping out with waste management at the colonies around Auroville. “An average Indian produces 420 grams of waste per day. Waste is undeniably one of our most serious growing problems. The aim of Waste Less is to make people aware of proper waste segregation and disposal,” says Vohra, 33.
A new beginning
Making most of the smart phone revolution, the team is working on developing a mobile app version of their campaigns, starting with their card game on waste separation and recycling, which is part of their Pick It Up programme. They plan to make it a competitive game where the user can play against the IP or another player. Meanwhile, the physical kit has cards printed in seven categories— metal, plastic, paper, glass, organic, e-waste and non-recyclable waste— with instructions in both English and Tamil. They have distributed the cards to several schools in Auroville, and made it available at the Visitors Centre, with plans to introduce it in all middle schools in the country within the next five years. “Instead of telling people to segregate their household trash into separate categories, stressing the ecological impact, we focus on guiding them on how to make money out of their garbage,” shares Vohra, adding that each family could make up to `115 a month.
The water tap analogy
Their latest campaign is on sanitary waste management. To tackle the issue in schools, they have come up with boards and posters (both in English and Tamil) to be kept in rest rooms with instructions on proper sanitary waste disposal in marked bins. They have plans to collaborate with Ecofemme (an Auroville based social enterprise) to develop hygienic washable sanitary pads. Also on their agenda is ‘Clean Lab Campaign’, which has been initiated at three Chennai schools, focussing on lab waste management in educational institutions. Meanwhile, their litter free campaign, Garbology 101, aims at reaching out to one million kids in the next five years. While Waste Less gets most of its funding from NGO groups, they also resort to crowd funding for some of their initiatives.