DUBAI // A young student will go knocking on her neighbours’ doors in a Dubai community along with other children to spread the message to recycle, reuse and go green.
Eleven-year-old Sagarika Sriram and her team of waste warriors and green giants plan to round up more than 1,000 cans from the Green Community beginning on Monday – World Environment Day – and continuing through Ramadan.
She convinced others to sign up with messages posted on her website – Kids For a Better World, www.k4bworld.com.
Sagarika aims to spread her word through posts on her blog, where she includes suggestions for planting, encourages children to push their parents to stop using plastic bags and start recycling initiatives in their communities.
“I believe if I recycle and talk about the environment then others will follow and it will keep going on and on. So we can create a green place for everybody in Dubai, then the continent and then the whole world,” said Sagarika, who learnt web design using an online course from the Johns Hopkins Centre for Talented Youth.
She also studied courses on coding, Mandarin and cryptography in programmes for gifted high achievers run by the US centre.
Raising consciousness is a key part of her message.
“I started this campaign after I heard all the horrible incidents with oil spills and sad moments when whales wash up on shores, and of turtles with plastic and rubbish in them.
“All this moved me because it’s not the animal’s fault that they are eating rubbish, it’s humans who throw rubbish and they think it’s food,” she said.
She has collected 1,040 kilogrammes of household paper waste in four weeks and regularly participates in clean-up drives organised by the Emirates Environment Group.
Sagarika’s passion prompted her school to lower the age for an ecology committee.
“Her recent presentation to the college eco committee – to students more than six and seven years her senior – was clearly inspiring for some of these more mature students at Jumeirah College, as they saw this young lady able to have such an effect at her relatively young age,” said Simon Forestiero, a teacher at the college.
“Sagarika has a naturally warm and infectious personality and this makes getting her peers on board a far easier process. We are also restructuring the eco committee membership to include lower-school pupils, in part because of Sagarika’s enthusiasm and commitment to environmental initiatives.”
A New Zealand resident is among the 1,000-plus members on her website.
“The concept is one of kindness: towards the Earth and by extension, each other. This is a concept that I drill into the young people I work with and it is great to see that it is being promoted by a young person to her peers,” said Cushla O’Neill, who has worked with vulnerable young people and their families in Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island.
“I believe that two of the most important skills we can teach our children are to be kind and to be connected to their community. Sagarika’s initiative promotes both of these skills.”
Sagarika also helps manage her family’s green patch, growing vegetables and herbs in the back yard and creating products using natural ingredients, said her mother, Divyata Rajaram.
“She encourages other children to act to build a green planet so they can be recognised as a waste warrior or a green giant. Her aim is to see many kids and parents join in.”