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A crash course on wasting less

Ribhu Vohra, visionary founder and leader of Auroville unit, Wasteless, shares his team’s inspiring journey of designing environmental education for Tamil Nadu state schools and the profound impact of their work on the community and beyond.

Ribhu Vohra, visionary founder and leader of Auroville unit, Wasteless, shares his team’s inspiring journey with the Yuvabe members.

As the visionary leader of Wasteless, Ribhu has dedicated his work to addressing plastic pollution and fostering environmental education. It all began when Ribhu noticed a piece of land near his home transforming into an unofficial garbage burning site, with noxious smoke permeating his living space. Concerned about the potential harm to his family, he delved into researching the implications of plastic waste and the flawed waste management system in Auroville and its neighbouring villages, which ultimately led him to explore the global waste crisis.

Visual diagram showcasing the different plastic codes.

Understanding Plastic

During the talk, Ribhu invited the youth to bring their daily use plastic items from their kitchens. Together, they examined the different plastic codes, learning to visually and tactilely differentiate between various plastics. The discussions went to how plastic has become an indispensable part of our lives, from water tanks to food containers and the thin plastic sleeves for agarbattis, we cannot avoid using plastic, it seems. But by understanding the different types of plastics, we can choose the less harmful ones when presented with a choice. 

The discussion also delved into the striking disparities in plastic consumption among countries and how individuals relate to waste, especially plastic waste. Living in India, our per capita consumption of plastic is significantly less than most other countries, with more than 50% of our waste being organic, biodegradable in nature. This can be used greatly to our advantage, if India actively develops waste segregation policies. 

Gamifying garbage

Photograph of students engaing in the Sea-Change program as part of Tamil Nadu state board education.

Ribhu shared the journey behind the creation of their first educational product "Garbology," a card game designed to introduce different kinds of plastics to school children. Engaging with students from Udavi school, the team sought to comprehend children’s understanding of plastics and actively involved them in the game's development, continuously seeking feedback from their target audience: school children.

Joining hands with Tamil Nadu school board

Young students holding non-plastic alternatives of common everyday items.

Soon after Garbology, Wasteless expanded its endeavours, developing a curriculum called "kNOw Plastics" for Tamil Nadu state board textbooks. The team diligently observed its implementation in local schools, gathering valuable insights for improvement. 

The unexpected gift of time during the Covid-19 lockdowns allowed them to focus on another pressing issue which they found after months of secondary research —the marine plastic crisis. Wasteless’s SEA-CHANGE program was born out of many in-depth discussions with eminent scientists and researchers in the field of marine plastics, and reading through countless research papers. 

Their hard work payed off well, as two years ago the wonderful Sea-Change program became a permanent part of Tamil Nadu state board education, further ensuring that knowledge about marine plastic pollution reaches young minds.

Ribhu Vohra, visionary founder and leader of Auroville unit, Wasteless, shares his team’s inspiring journey with the Yuvabe members.

Wasteless possesses a grand vision—to arm the next generation with comprehensive information about plastic pollution and inspire them to lead more conscious lives, bringing about a long term behavioural change. Their unwavering dedication and commitment to creative design thinking have resulted in a highly impactful product, tackling the dearth of environmental education in the country.

Wasteless’s journey from being a small educational initiative to being the recipient of National Geographic Society’s grant, is an inspiring story that epitomises the importance of perseverance in the face of challenges. The entire Yuvabe team was greatly touched and inspired by Ribhu’s narration and eagerly look forward to future collaborations with the Wasteless team. To learn more about this wonderful initiative visit their website:

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