Waste Management: My Issue or Our Issue?

As we all know, the waste produced in Woodstock is a severe issue that needs to be addressed. Before the pandemic, the Waste Management Team, an initiative taken upon by Community Engagement was set up as a step towards overcoming this issue. Initially a project started by a handful of students that saw the amount of food and water that was wasted on school grounds, it is now a collaborative effort taken by Woodstock and other schools in Mussoorie.

The team has collected information and developed statistics for all issues related to proper waste management at school. “The waste management initiative at Woodstock is all about managing waste that is generated on a daily basis. We work towards that same goal collaboratively, where people with different interests come up with a solution within the waste management field, which includes food, water, and paper and plastic management committees,” says Sangjun Park, a member of the latter.

According to Sparsh Agarwala, also a member of the team, the initiative is divided into three sub-committees, Water Management, Paper and Plastic Management, and Food Waste Management team. The respective committees strive towards regulating the amount of waste we produce and have come up with creative ideas and solutions to fight their cause. Some of these are by collecting and analyzing the data from the kitchen on a monthly basis and by interviewing and interacting with the locals that utilize resources from sources near our school. .

A notable issue is the amount of water that is wasted on a daily basis. According to the Water Management Team, the total amount of water required by an individual is approximately 145 liters per day. But, alarmingly, the total amount of water consumed per person by the Kitchen and Ridgewood alone is 263 liters a day. However, other dorms are not as innocent with Hostel using up to a total of 25,000 liters of water a day, and Midlands coming in third place with 18,000-20,000 liters of water per day, followed by Alterridge with 8,000-10,000 liters of water per day. Through all of this, methods and solutions have been introduced to manage this. Hot water timings, though not seen as very convenient to most at the dorm level, have been introduced for the right reasons. At the school level, taps in the Quad Dining Hall have been set such that enough water is let out to fill a single glass. Teachers have also been assigned positions during lunch to monitor and make sure food is not wasted. A logging system for food waste has also been introduced to keep a tab on how much food is being wasted. Teachers have also been encouraged to use online textbooks over tangible books. Another step taken by the team is by spreading awareness of the issue through having presentations at Assemblies, brainstorming new ideas, inviting guest speakers specialized in this field. “Due to various initiatives that have been undertaken, there has been raised awareness which has led to a reduction of paper, plastic, water, and food waste among both Woodstock students and teachers,” says Nikolas Hoekman, a member of the paper and plastic team.

The amount of waste produced does not only impact the Woodstock family alone but also the Community around the school. For example, the Palisades stream which is rationed to Woodstock sends its leftovers off to the locals. If excess amounts of water are utilized by us, this renders the locals unable to receive a supply of the required minimum. Hence, as a community, it is our responsibility to use our resources wisely and understand the weight of the privilege placed in our hands.

Faith is a staff reporter.

Edited by Asha.

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