Making the ‘Earth smile’ one step at a time

Raul Aaron David
Monday, 3 July 2017

Revive and Paperback are some of the projects through which the Kolkata-based NGO is working to make the city clean and green. Youth have a prominent role to play in this.

Revive and Paperback are some of the projects through which the Kolkata-based NGO is working to make the city clean and green. Youth have a prominent role to play in this.

Educating the future of India in their teen years on the importance of protecting the environment has and will always be the prime objective of Earthsmiles.net, a Kolkata based non-governmental organisation. Established in 2008, the organisation and its mentor Farrell Shah, has continuously emphasised the importance of the youth to be the face of change. “This organisation is for the youth and run by the youth,” said Shah.

One of the most prominent projects of Earthsmiles.net is called ‘Revive!’ It is an exhibition cum sale that is hosted in schools like The Assembly of God Church and Shri Shikshayatan. The main goal of Revive is to instill the understanding of the necessity of using recycled items whenever possible. Another angle is to show the beauty of recycled products to the students. Partner NGOs are also invited to set up stalls at Revive. NGOs like Ankur Kala and South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) are some of the regular members. 

The products sold by the Earthsmiles.net team are made in-house by the team themselves. Some of the signature products are the ‘Capchains’; these are key chains made using soft drink bottle caps that are collected from stores. These bottle caps are then decorated in various designs and have been a regular crowd puller. A recent design was the papier mache Iphone covers that took the schools by storm with students grabbing the covers with their favourite design.

Apart from Revive, Earthsmiles.net also hosts paper making workshops for schools as well as corporate employees. A handmade paper making workshop was held at the Green4Life Foundation office. Employees of DB Schenker were invited for a seminar followed by a hands-on learning experience. The employees were first given a seminar on how the handmade paper making process is carried out on an industrial level.

They were taken through the process by Shah. The technique shown in the presentation was for mass production and would have to be tweaked to be applied to your living room and the Earthsmiles.net team did just that.

First, the team began the process while explaining each step to the audience and when they were done, the first sheet of freshly made paper was met with admiration by the awestruck spectators. The employees were then divided into teams of two and guided step by step by a member of the earthsmiles.net team, to make their own sheet of handmade, recycled paper.

The same workshop was then held at Mahadevi Birla World Academy and the children were equally excited. The goal of the workshop was to show people how easy it is to make recycled paper instead of just throwing newspapers or print-outs away. The recycled paper can then be used for a variety of purposes, one being what the earthsmiles.net team call a ‘seed card’. This is also one of the prominent sellers at Revive.

The seeds of plants are placed in the recycled paper during the drying process so that they get embedded into the fibre. These papers are then cut into shapes of animals or toys and are placed in envelopes. These cards need to just be placed directly into the mud and a plant will grow from it.

Earthsmiles.net encourages schools and offices to not throw away spare papers and converted this into a different project altogether, called ‘Paperback’. This is a competition that is held amongst all their partner schools where students bring small pieces of paper that are usually thrown away like bus tickets and ATM receipts. The team then collects the paper from the schools after a stipulated period of time and after segregation of the eligible pieces of paper from those that are not, the collection is weighed and noted. The school that collects the greatest amount of these papers in weight is then awarded a certificate of merit on behalf of the organisation.

These are just some of the ways Earthsmiles.net has tried to be shining light in their city and bring about a change to make a greener and cleaner Kolkata.

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