Bengaluru: It takes a village to raise a child, but how does one raise an environmentally conscious society? Well, for Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE), it is a ward by ward approach. ENSYDE, an environment NGO, has been in the environment scene for close to 14 years, but it is only in 2016 that it got registered as a trust and since then began a journey or a planned approach to finding solutions for three main areas – water, energy and waste.
“Our NGO is looking at specific gaps and our whole module is designed to make it scalable. We try to get people to the solution rather than just focussing on the problem and being a part of it,” explains Manvel Alur, CEO and Founder, ENSYDE.
One of the most recent and successful projects undertaken by the NGO focuses on e-waste disposal. ENSYDE in partnership with Saahas (another NGO) has started an initiative on responsible e-waste collection and awareness within households and institutions in Bengaluru. “In the last year-and-a-half, we have reached out to over 600 institutions and resident welfare associations (RWAs) to participate in this programme. The bE-Responsible initiative has tied up with a recycler, authorised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), to ensure that the e-waste collected is managed in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The programme is scheduled for expansion to an additional 10 wards within the next year,” says Manvel.
This initiative that started in October 2016 covers 20 wards. It has collected over 7.5 tonnes of e-waste and reached out to around 6 lakh individuals through campaigns and outreach programmes. “Through this, we have reduced 2,151 kg of carbon emissions, diverted 44 kg of toxic metals from landfills and recovered 521 kg of total metals. Considering the time span, I’d say the numbers are extremely good. But considering the number of waste people have in their cupboards or houses, it is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says.
“Our campaigns are conducted to sensitise stakeholders on the need for formal and responsible collection, treatment, recycling and disposal of e-waste, and the environmental, safety and health implications of the informal system that exists today. We run campaigns in various public events, schools, colleges, churches, malls, hospitals and resident welfare associations through workshops, campaigns, emails, and social media. Saahas, meanwhile, helps in collection and disposal of e-waste,” she says.
“We design and implement solutions that improve resource use efficiency – specifically energy, water and waste. Deeply integrated into our projects and programmes is environmental awareness and behavioural change through customised experiential learning for the stakeholders involved,” explains the founder.
Another successful project run by them is the environment experiential education, where students are asked to involve themselves into thinking about energy consumption or waste management. “We try to get these students into the issue and experience it. If it’s energy consumption, they’re asked to go out on the street, observe a streetlight and look at the energy it consumes and the other options that can be used in its place. We set a session into the context. Currently, we have touched close to 800 students and 96 projects. Under these projects, there are 3-4 learning outcomes, social, environmental, ethical sensitisation and mathematics sensitisation, which involves them to go to a construction site and conduct a survey asking the right questions,” she elaborates. Her team is now going to start sensitisation programmes at corporate companies as well. “A few MNCs have reached out to us and we are looking forward to that,” she says.
However, mobilising of funds is a huge challenge for an initiative such as this. “That’s always a challenge especially when you are fairly young in terms of an NGO. We are looking at CSR (corporate social responsibility funds) and donations, but there is no innovative funding mechanism. But soon we are starting to look at international projects which would turn us into a self-managing programme,” she says.