Make green a habit
The current education system is not sufficiently equipping the youth and children (65% of India's population is below the age of 35, 22% is adolescent) to solve problems of solid waste, water & energy grappling India at every level – environment, health & education. These problems not only have environmental impact but also result in social inadequacies. The severity of the problems can be understood from the following data points:
1. Inadequate sanitation has as adverse impact on 6% of India’s GDP and is one of the biggest reasons for girl drop outs in public schools and health issues.
2. In the next 7-10 years, one of India’s biggest metropolis Bangalore with a population of 10 million will have to be evacuated due to water shortage
3. In the next a year, we will lose a city of the size of Bangalore to garbage dumping
4. Energy efficiency is India is many times than developing countries
Personally, we feel the change has to start from individuals and their everyday behaviors. Not in an activisty way but in an entrepreneurial/ problem-solving way. Like YT's own manifesto of ReapBenefit aims to address this lacuna of eco-leaders amongst the nextgen who can tackle everyday issues (waste, water, energy and sanitation) in the most entrepreneurial ways. Through a first-of-its-kind-in-the- Fellowship in the world. We are bringing together the key decision makers of tomorrow (youth and children) to learn to co-work, co-create, co-solve and co-lead the daily environmental hassles.
We aspire to solve environmental problems in the most entrepreneurial way. We specifically tackle sanitation, water, waste and energy as they are the most relevant and relatable aspects of environment. We do not create solutions that cater to millions; instead, we aim to create young leaders who will create solutions that will cater to billions.
We do this through our first-of-its-kind Green Fellowship, where we develop tomorrow’s eco-leaders by mingling the curiosity and unrelenting nature of children (from public and private schools) with the skills and practicality of the youth (20-28 year olds).
All that big picture given, problems start at home. As a society, we lack leaders who will solve the daily problems related to waste, water, energy and sanitation. As individuals, our own behaviors with respect to environment need to change. ReapBenefit exists to address these two issues – lack of everyday eco-leaders and behavior change with respect to environment.
In schools, Reap Benefit targets children in the 6th-9th grade (his priority is to work with 6th and 7th graders as it gives him an opportunity to develop more ownership and leadership in them over the course of 3-4 years till they leave the school). Over an academic year, he engages these children through 15 sessions that roughly span 90-180 minutes each. These sessions are mostly conducted as part of the school hours covering aspects of waste, water, energy and bio-diversity. These sessions are driven by children who co-design their own curriculum as peers (based on what issues most matter to them and their observations of surroundings). The curriculum and pedagogy take the children through a cycle of ‘why-how-what’ on all the above four aspects of environment. The children are encouraged for asking ‘Why?’ at all points of the program to ensure the accumulated knowledge through these sessions do not become trivia that they never use to solve any problems.
For instance, when children choose water as an area to work on in their school premises, they go around and explore all aspects related to the use of water that they observe. They document everything and create a map of water sources, usage and destination. Armed with such a easily-digestible visual tool backed with right data, they then collectively reflect and question on different aspects. For example, they observe that although they use the taps for only about 10 seconds while washing their hands, they consume much more water than they think. The dialogue leads them to realize that the small surface area of the nozzle requires one to place their hands longer under the tap and hence disburse more water than is actually necessary to wash hands. Once they understand the problem and see the opportunity, they discuss with each other and look at various options such as aerators available in the market. Debating on the various options, they either decide to choose one or come up with their own version of aerator which costs much less to manufacture and implement. Once the aerator is designed and fitted in the taps, they start tracking usage and plot it against the map they made earlier. Thus they are able to identify the problem, co-create a solution with their peers and adults and most importantly quantify its impact. One or two members from team along with a teacher from the school are present to guide the children along such activities. While such problems have readily available solutions, Reap Benefit also encourages children to think out-of-the-box. For instance, in government schools where resources are hard to be allocated, he encourages children to come up with cost-effective yet creative and impactful solutions such as transparent waste bins (which creates peer pressure in segregating wet and dry waste) and low-cast wash basins that will help filter solid waste from used water and help reuse the water for toilets.
These session are fun, interesting and useful for children from the very beginning by letting them feel they are co-creators and not mere learners. Students design the curriculum, drive peer instruction and also design game mechanisms through which they rate themselves, teachers and Reap Benefit's team. For example, students and teams accumulate points during sessions for various activities (such as asking the right questions, feeling comfortable to come up with answers though they may not be the right one, going out of one’s way to assist other individuals/ teams, coming up with innovative solutions, spreading awareness amongst peers etc.). They also accumulate points for activities carried out after the session, ranging from educating parents and neighbours about environmental problems to co-creating solutions for those problems with them. Reap Benefit believes this gamification, incentivizes students and makes it much more enjoyable for students, while at the same acting as a creative tool to track impact For instance, children get bored if they do not see a tangible impact. With gamification, he has encouraged children to explore ways to track and report impact as a part of his program.
To instill skills of empathy for all life and the cognitive skills to understand patterns that connect human activity to the larger flows of nature, Reap Benefit also organizes ‘step-out’ sessions. These sessions include trips to understand the local ‘garbage tour’ (that walks the students through the entire value chain of waste management from street dustbins to local dumpyard and waste management facilities), buildings of corporation that are attempting to become environmentally sustainable, rainwater harvesting parks etc. These ‘step-outs’ instill a high level of empathy to understand the long-term importance of safeguarding the environment. They also enable students to apply their learnings from the program to identify problems in their community, have the inspiration and know-how to suggest solutions and the willingness to co-create those solutions with the necessary stakeholders as teams. They also rewards children who display extraordinary amounts of creativity and hunger for designing such solutions with internships at corporations where they co-create solutions for the corporations along with their employees.
Reap Benefit makes the children adopt the behaviour built through these sessions to a regular habit through a combination of gamification, peer pressure and buy-in from the community (teachers, parents and neighbours).Once the children start identifying and solving problems at their houses/ communities, parents and neighbours begin to get inspired and start engaging with the children in understanding the problem as well as assisting them with resources to create the solutions. For instance, some of the children have started segregating waste and composting at home, installing rainwater harvesting systems in houses, doing energy audits at home and convincing parents to understand the necessity to replace geysers with solar water heaters for instance. Some of the students have also worked with Reap Benefit in deploying sanitation systems, grey water systems, bio gas plants in government schools. they believes this ripple effect, driven by the children’s enthusiasm, creativity and knowledge will drive the behavioural change in the communities they belong to. With game mechanics, he has already begun to track that behavioural change in these children and their communities.
Given the government’s schools do not have any funds earmarked for such initiatives, Reap Benefit continues to engage with corporations through a ‘for-profit’ (that he set up in July 2013) arm to be sustainable through solutions and behavioral change. Aside from donations from philanthropic foundations, his impressive engagement with big corporations in their sustainability audits and such big corporations’ desire to spend their CSR money more wisely have prompted them to fund his government schools initiatives. Apart from these revenue sources, the team has also developed an organic enzyme that fastens the process of composting food waste. He has been selling the enzyme through his for-profit arm to various environmental agencies that are into waste management.
We plans to scale up by designing impact matrices for tracking behaviour change using software/ technology is high on priority. We already are working with one of the biggest IT corporations in India who are willing to do this on a pro-bono basis and technology platform will allow us to build a generation of eco literate citizens and track them from childhood to adulthood
By July 2015, launch the first-of-its-kind-in-the-world Fellowship to bring together the key decision makers of tomorrow (youth and children) to learn to co-work, co-create, co-lead and co-solve the daily environmental hassles. By 2020, work with at least 250 Fellows (21-28 year olds), 160,000 children (11-17 year olds) from public and private schools, amounting to 2 million hours of environmental problem solving involving these youth and children and help create measurable and long-term behavior change in these individuals to enable them to become eco-leaders, leading to problem-solving of their own community's everyday environmental issues
Fellow ( 21-28 years old)
1.24 month fellowship working in 8 schools ( 50% of which are private schools
2.Use Gamification tools to work with school children
3.Hands on training in developing innovations
5.Internships & Research
1. Initiatives taken post fellowship in their respective profession
4.Academic pursuit in solving environmental problems
5.Heightened civic engagement
Student ( 13-17 years old) private schools
1.A yearlong engagement with the fellows
2.Deploy the gamiifed systems in schools in waste water & energy
3.Learn, Do & Lead
1.Initiatives taken by the students
2.40-50% of the students bring changes at home
3.Average savings of 200,000 litres of water, 100 units of power and 500kgs of waste diverted from landfills
Student ( 13-17 years old) government schools
1.A yearlong engagement ( 20 hours) by the fellow
2.Co-developed solutions for sanitation, energy& water in a gamified environment
1.Water savings upto 50%
2.Better health conditions, increased attendance improved learning outcomes
3.Reward based financing