March is a wonderful time for school-going children in the UAE as after the stress of examinations for most students, they can look forward to days of outdoor fun, unexpected showers and find time to relax and soak in the blissfully cool days of the Spring break.
For most students, the end of the academic year also means that the by-gone year’s books have been bundled off the shelves in order to make space for a new set for the upcoming academic year.
The task of clearing shelves off of the old books was one task that my brother and I willingly threw ourselves into for it guaranteed the fact that our parents were not going to breathe down our necks to reopen the academic doors which we had secured shut for that academic year.
Suddenly, the windows of knowledge with its colourful jackets encased in brown paper covers and fancy labels transformed into mere bundles of books that occupied space and needed to be quickly disposed off.
The most effective way of disposal those days was to trade them off to the junk and scrap dealer for a paltry sum. We children were thrilled at the sight of our books exchange hands looking forward to the treat that awaited us with the money that we got in exchange. Mother always wondered if the books could be put to better use for she believed that there was always another deserving child in need of that book. However, the fact that it was being recycled and the lack of means available to us those days to find that deserving person could have been the reason why she just let it go.
The advent of Whatsapp has brought about a revolution in communication. It has also proven to be a fairly easy platform aiding even the digitally-challenged generation living in our midst to make it their primary mode of communication. It sure has had its share of trouble with newsmongers using this platform to share fake news and the free platform allowing for friends and family to clog phone memories with inconsequential forwards.
All thanks to a Whatsapp link, this year I will be effectively recycling my son’s books, some of which are as good as new, for they will soon reach the hands of a student who will reuse them.
This Whatsapp link was the brainchild of a few fifth graders’ thoughtful mothers at my son’s school who provided us with an invite to a group where we could give away our set of used books and find a willing donor across the school willing to spare theirs.
The fact that it took less than a day for the link to go viral with books being exchanged and venues for the exchange being finalised goes to show that parents were not only saving money but setting an example to the use-and-throw generation giving them lessons in reduce, reuse and recycle first hand.
If statistics can drive home the point better, every ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy and 380 gallons of oil.
The digital age has given birth to a slouching generation shunning real world and real people trapped in the glowing spell of gizmos that are windows into an attractive and fast-paced virtual bubble between tackling disorders like FOMO and text neck syndrome, yet we cannot deny that technology has revolutionised our lives to extents that the human race could once only dream of with people effectively using this platform for causes that are dear to them and for the welfare of humanity.
In a world were options are aplenty and communication is literally at our fingertips, it is up to us to make our choices prudently.
Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha