Gulf News reader Nityashri Sankaran has been collecting newspapers for recycling since 2011. Image Credit: Courtesy: Nityashri Sankaran

Sharjah: The year 2017 was declared the Year of Giving, which was inspired by the values of hospitality and generosity that lie at the heart of the UAE’s identity.

Even though the year may have ended, I decided to carry forward the message of volunteering and serving the nation in order to help the planet and inspire other students to do their bit.

I have always been very active in environmental conservation activities at the school level and through several non-profit groups in the UAE. I wanted to make a difference and achieve multiple goals through one initiative.

I have been recycling newspapers since 2011 and a few days ago, one of my friends asked me whether I was selling them.

This sparked an idea! It was not such a bad idea to sell the waste papers, but the money earned should also be used for a good cause.

I did some research to find details of companies that would buy the waste paper and recycle it. I managed to find a company in Dubai, with whom I am now associated for my paper recycling project.

The nominal sum I receive in return has been accumulating over the past nine months and I have donated it for children’s education to Dubai Cares. I have also used a portion of the money to plant 300 fruit saplings along with a farmer in India, which increases the green cover and gives him a sustainable income.

Reducing trash

Since April 2017, I have recycled close to 8,500 kilogrammes of waste paper and the source of collection is my neighbours, friends, classmates and even corporate offices. I collect old newspapers, books and waste paper.

In the past nine months, she worked in coordination with a Dubai-based company and donated the money collected to Dubai Cares. Courtesy: Nityashri Sankaran

A study conducted by the US-based University of Southern Indiana states that each tonne of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.

This represents 64 per cent energy savings, 58 per cent water savings and 60 pounds less air pollution!

The 17 trees that are saved can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same tonne of paper would create 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.

With my recycling project, I was glad to have helped recycle paper and reduce the trash being sent to the landfill.

Additionally, trees are being saved and the wider community around me is also getting inspired and joining in.

I have a network of contacts now who regularly collect waste paper and call me to collect it. If children my age get into the habit early on, we can help the future generations as we grow older.

Additionally, the money is being donated towards children’s education, who are the future.

Despite my tight academic schedule and extracurricular activities, I ensure to spare at least four hours on the weekend to collect the waste paper from all my sources and deposit them with the recycling company.

The project has also helped me learn the value of money, as I manage the finances of the recycling and donations, and it shows me how difficult it is to earn!

It is quite strenuous to collect the paper and sometimes embarrassing when I struggle to carry several bags full of paper.

But, the results are rewarding and I will continue to make the efforts, as much as I can, and would wish to spread awareness so that others follow suit.

This is a project with no investment, but it is very satisfying, as I am helping make the planet greener.

The reader is a student based in Dubai. Be a community reporter. Tell us what is happening in your community. Send us your videos and pictures at readers@gulfnews.com

Nityashri Sankaran’s mother spoke to Gulf News about her daughter’s achievements.

  1. Srividya Sankaran, a claims manager at an insurance company in Dubai, helps her daughter carry out her recycling initiative. In the past six years, she has witnessed her daughter grow into an environmentally conscious individual and today, she is proud.
  2. She said: “It makes me really happy to see her. In the beginning it was difficult, because there was a lot of academic pressure on her. Now, it has become a habit and is much easier. She goes to do things or participate in activities without me having to tell her.”
  3. Nityashri has built a timetable wherein she marks all the environmental activities around Dubai. Her school also supports such events and encourages students to participate. But, the turning point for her was when she witnessed the amount of paper going to waste at home.
  4. Srividya said: “Paper is very frequently used, but is also easy to collect. We now have a network of contacts. When they have a lot of waste paper at home or in their offices, they call us. We collect it and pass it on to the recycling company.”

—By Rabab Khan/Community Interactivity Editor