What a waste!
At our organisation, we’re always trying to find ways of interesting the youth towards the topic of Green Chemistry. Only if the youth of a nation understand our mission, will it be successful. But, a little complicated that the subject is, getting youngsters enthused proves a tad tough So we got talking to some college students one of these days about our ideologies. These were third year BSc students from a Mumbai college. Admittedly, the session got a little too technical for them and I could see some of the students stifling yawns. One even got to the extent of commenting out loud, “What a waste!”
“Yes”, I said and startled all. They expected a chastisement of sorts but I’d found my turning point there. “It is a waste. If you take no message back, the session will have gone waste. All the precious resources – your time, my effort – everything wasted. It will have polluted our moods in the process and your HOD’s disappointment would be the byproduct. The other alternative is for us to make this session fruitful and negate waste, get a zero e-factor!”
My point had hit home. The whole of the last hour’s presentations fell into perspective. Then questions flew thick and fast from students.
“What exactly is e-waste?” one asked.
I flipped back a few slides and explained. “E-factor is the amount of waste generated per kilogram of final product or the measure of environmental impact of the waste in your production processes.”
“But how is it of any concern to us?” another shot back.
“It concerns you in every living moment you spend on this planet. Every thing you use in the course of your modern life has repercussions on the environment, which has an immediate bearing on your life. The more you pollute, the more polluted things nature will give you. For every bit of plastic waste you generate, you’ll get one toxic fruit, vegetable or meat in the bargain. Now if that doesn’t alarm you, I don’t know what else will.”
“But what is the solution?” questioned one of the back benchers.
“Green chemistry! Just so we don’t have to deal with wastes and break out heads over trying to treat and recycle it, we should stop generating waste.”
“Is that possible?” the back-bencher asked, now riveted.
“Yes. That’s exactly what green chemistry is all about. We formulate solutions in a way that there are little or no by-products. And if there are by-products, we ensure, they are completely bio-degradable. Simply put, we remove the root of the problem!”
I could hear murmurs of approval from the class. I could see realisation in their eyes. And I knew, the session had not gone ‘waste’. Green Chemistry was working here too!
Have you ever faced such an ‘environmental moment of truth’? Tell me about it!