More often than not, we tend to take things for granted, especially those that are easily available to us — environment being one of them. And, the very fact that today we are having to observe World Environment Day to spread awareness and increase involvement of the citizens of safeguard the world testifies the ‘taken for granted’ aspect of the human trait.
World Environment Day was first observed on 5th June 1973 and since then it is being observed annually on 5th June across the world. The main purpose of this day is to raise global awareness pertaining to the importance of sustaining green and healthy environment, and involving everyone to solve environmental issues by implementing pro-environment measures. Each year, this day is observed based on a specific theme and the theme for 2018 is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. With India being the host for this year’s World Environment Day, the whole world will come together to combat the issue of plastic pollution.
Well, at a more localised level, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a mid-day meal NGO in India is actively involved in safeguarding the environment. This NGO implements the Government of India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme in 14,173 schools across 36 locations in 12 states. With constant support from Central Government, various State Governments and benevolent Corporate and individual donors, Akshaya Patra has a beneficiary base of 17,12,460 children and has been recognised as the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme. In order to implement such large scale feeding programme, Akshaya Patra employs the centralised kitchen concept. These kitchens act as nodes for a set of schools located in the vicinity and the meals prepared in these kitchens are delivered to schools in customised insulated delivery vehicles.
The NGO is cognizant as part of its operational process, it is important not to add more woes to the environment. Thus, it makes conscious effort to reduce wastage, treat wastage before dispensing it to the ecosystem, and uses renewable energy as alternate source to generate power. Here are six pro-environment measures implemented by Akshaya Patra:
1. Implementation of FIFO and FEFO — The Akshaya Patra cooking process involves a systematic work flow to ensure safety and hygiene of the cooked meals while also enhancing productivity of the kitchen units. Each of the kitchens strictly adheres to the standard procedure of storage, handling, and preservation of raw materials. In order to ensure all the raw materials used for cooking are fresh, all the kitchens follow the FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expiry First Out) methods while issuing the raw material for production. By doing so, the kitchens are able to properly identify, store and retrieve the raw materials in an appropriate manner resulting in optimum use of raw materials and reduction in wastage.
2. Biogas Plants — As a green initiative, Akshaya Patra has adopted biogas plants to convert organic waste into energy. Not just cost, these plants reduce the dependency on LPG while also producing organic manure — a more sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers.
3. Solar Plant — Some Akshaya Patra kitchens have already begun to use solar energy as an alternative to save electricity. These kitchens have installed solar plants that use photovoltaic (PV) cells to directly convert sunlight to electricity.
4. Biomass Briquette — Most of the Akshaya Patra kitchens have substituted the use of coal and charcoal with biomass briquette to generate energy. This way the NGO is also conserving the depleting non-renewable sources.
5. Effluent Treatment Plants — All the kitchens have Sewage Treatment Plant to scientific treat, dispose, and recycle kitchen wastes. By doing so this NGO in India is curbing direct disposal of waste into the environment thereby preventing environmental pollution.
6. Reed Bed Plants — So that untreated water is not discharged directly into the environment, some kitchens use the Reed Bed Plant technology. It is a natural way of filtering waste water and making it suitable for purposes such as irrigation and cleaning of external kitchen areas. This way, the kitchens are not only curbing water pollution but also making the water reusable.
Aside from the above-mentioned, Akshaya Patra has recently launched its hi-tech mega kitchen in Kandi, Telangana. This kitchen features a couple of remarkable eco-friendly technologies such as the ReFlex Reverse Osmosys System, COMBLOCK Boiler for steam generation and the ANDICOS Waste to Energy Generation System. Click how can we save our environment to read more.
In conclusion, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ are three simple words that we need to consciously pay attention to and act upon it too.
At a personal level, we can take the below measures to safeguard our environment:
• Increase green cover by planting more trees
• Avoid excessively packaged items.
• Conserve energy by using energy-efficient electrical appliances.
• Reduce the burden on non-renewable resources by using alternative renewable sources such as solar energy, wind energy etc.
• Go paperless and plastic-free
• Dispose garbage and waste appropriately
So, what measures do you take at an individual or a community level to save the environment? Do share your suggestions and measures. Your share can make a significant impact upon the only life-sustaining environment in the entire galaxy!