Monday, June 24, 2024

Closing the gaps in circularity and solving planet’s waste crisis!

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A forward-thinking environmental organisation dedicated to driving positive change is OneEarth Foundation, focusing on promoting sustainability and combating environmental challenges. This week, The Pioneer hears from the founder as we discuss their mission! 

SHIKHA DUGGAL
To contribute to a cleaner world, the OneEarth Foundation delivered study tables and benches manufactured from separated low-value plastic garbage gathered during the 30-day anti-plastic pollution campaign to an underprivileged school in a slum.
The program, which aimed to prevent plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices, raised awareness among over 1300 people and students, collected 1.4 tons of trash, held 59 seminars and clean-up drives, and paddled 120 kilometers along the Goa shoreline.
This effort is more than just a symbolic gesture; it symbolises the OneEarth Foundation’s core ideals, which are based on circular economy techniques. It believes in closing the loop by managing garbage in a sustainable manner, which will contribute to a more ecologically conscious society.
This “more ecologically conscious society” prompted us to do an exclusive community wise column with the foundation, in which we hear from founder Ferdin Sylvester: “Our mission is to protect India’s coastal ecosystems, specifically targeting marine plastic pollution and preserving the mangrove ecosystem and beyond. We empower communities, educate kids across the country, and promote equitable access to climate and related education for government and socially disadvantaged pupils.”
The foundation advocates a circular economy model that reduces waste and improves resource efficiency through concepts such as reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle. They focus on programs aimed at effectively managing ocean-bound plastic garbage. They bridge the gap with the circular model, repurposing waste as valuable resources rather than disposing of it in landfills or the ocean! They also use new techniques to turn low-value plastics into usable items, which promotes environmental sustainability and drives systemic change.
“Recognising the importance of mangrove ecosystems, we work with local people of  southwestern coast to expand mangrove plantations and preserve existing mangroves. Our strategy focuses on empowering communities, particularly women, through awareness programs on the socioeconomic benefits of mangrove agriculture. The charity places a high priority on climate education and awareness. Our IEC projects serve as change agents, raising awareness and encouraging action toward more sustainable living. The foundation lobbies for policy reforms and climate-friendly policies at the local, national, and international levels, participating in programs such as the Rural WASH program under SBM-G 2.0 and JJM 2.0,” adds the founder.
They conducted various investigations on rivers and estuaries, including extensive mapping, baseline surveys, categorisation and characterisation studies, to discover data weaknesses such as plastic trash, mangrove diversity, and biodiversity. They use cutting-edge technologies such as arcGIS and satellite imagery in their research, as well as conducting in-depth analyses of published papers and reports from reputable organisations!
The founder goes on, “In the face of an unsustainable environment created by human acts, we must go deeper and accelerate efforts both personally and systematically. The behaviour change and information, education, and communication awareness are critical components of our activities. We prioritise disseminating good narratives through a variety of channels. Combating disinformation is critical in an information-rich age, especially in the environmental and sustainability realms. Our work on the 16 ways waste segregation initiatives demonstrate the power of community action and individual responsibility in environmental management. Segregation at the source is critical to reducing trash mishandling, increasing recycling, and lowering government costs for refuse-derived fuel.”
Accolades, prizes, and recognition are more than just achievements; they demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment for the founder. As a youthful and enthusiastic group, their mission is to safeguard coastal ecosystems and communities while building sustainable cities through circular waste management systems, mangrove restoration, and empowering youngsters to take positive climate action. Their case study, “Mitigating Plastic Waste in Coastal Ecosystems Through Education and Circular Economy Innovation,” was recognised and featured in the India Sanitation Coalition’s flagship publication, Business of Change Series 2023! Furthermore, “being recognised by leading corporations, funding organisations, think tanks, and mentors is extremely rewarding. It confirms that we are on the right track and strengthens our reputation in the eyes of stakeholders, partners, and supporters worldwide. This increased visibility not only allows us to reach a larger audience, but it also reinforces our message of environmental protection and sustainability. Building on recent triumphs, such as our anti-plastic pollution campaign, we intend to expand these efforts beyond coastal waters to include streams, backwaters, and land areas.”

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