Recycling of waste is a major cause to think, and one needs to come up with ideas how can we use the waste in the best possible way. Meet Lomas Dhungle a 34-year-old school teacher working in a small village called Makha in East Sikkim along with his students is generating revenue from book covers made of plastic wastes such as chips wrappers and old papers.

In 2015, he started a project ‘Hariyo Makha – Sikkim against Pollution.’ The revenue which is generated by selling plastic covers helps to support financially those students who cannot afford education. So far he has sponsored the education of 5 children from the income generated.

Lomas says,

“Before the plastic ban came into effect, I had never heard anyone speak ill of plastic. In fact, plastic was used by people from every walk of life. Later I was shocked to find out the irreversible damage plastic is doing to the planet.”

Then in 2013, he used to segregate the collected waste and instead of burning or throwing it, he started selling the dry waste to scrap dealers and recycling units. In the same year after finding a job as a school teacher, Lomas thought if he could change the mindset of even 10 children it would be a contribution to the environment, and then he began Hario Makha Project.

The entire project is divided into 3 parts that deals with a plastic waste,paper waste and other kinds of dry waste.

How he fashioned Chips Packet Into a Book Cover

Project 1: Hario Makha

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People living in Makha and tourists often litter the roads with wrappers and food packets. Since these packets have no value,ragpickers would burn it and this results in air pollution. Lomas tried to experiment the idea which rushed in his mind and gathered few waste  packets of chips and stuck them together with a cello tape to create a book cover, yes it worked. The very next day he presented the same idea in front of Government Senior Secondary school, and it was approved. Meanwhile, he approached students of class 6 to 8 and told them to bring waste wrappers to school. He then asked to clean the packets to students of class 9 and 10. Then altogether instructed them to stick it nicely with the help of cello tape. The project got stupendous response in the last four years.They have reused  50,000 plastic chips packet to make 3000 book covers. From the money collected 1 student was sponsored for schooling.

Lomas says, “We have reused around 500 kilos of plastic and prevented 3000 kilos of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases from entering our atmosphere.”

His ideas to reuse waste didn’t stop here, then he started his second project.

Project 2: Clean Paper

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There is a common trend of using only one side of A4 papers especially for school assignments and this result in tremendous wastage of papers.

Under this project ,he requested students and parents of his village to donate assignments of children that pass out from school.More than 20 school students contributed their books and over 30,000 pages were rehashed to make 200 odd books by 82 students. Lomas says, “ Recently we helped  2 female students – Sova devi Sharma and Anugraha Chettri to get admission into BA courses under IGNOU, Gangtok. A demand for 200 additional copies is still on it’s way.”

Project 3 : Golden Rupee

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The idea behind this project is to collect dry waste including paper, plastic, glass,tins etc and sell it to the recyclers.The most interesting part of this project is irrespective of the volume of waste the school will take only 1 rupee from recycler. The trivia behind 1 rupee is “ I want my students to know that garbage also carried value hence no waste should be wasted ,”  says Lomas.

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School has allotted them a room to collect waste materials  and in last twelve months they have sold more than 500 kilos of waste and earned 4rs.

Besides creating safe future for students and villagers of Makha Lomas also gets invited by NGO’s , Block development officer , hospitals and private schools to create awareness on waste management.

Today’s children will become tomorrow’s adults. All we as citizens can do is change the perception of at least 1 child towards the way he handles the waste…,” signs off Lomas

Waste is no doubt a profit making business. Hats off to Lomas who really changed the vision of seeing  waste as useful thing .Change can happen only if we are willing.

As Waste isn’t Waste until we Waste it!!!