KU’s green campus aims find roots from within

Department of Sociology’s initiative proves to be a success

Kerala University’s aspirations to make its Karyavattom campus ‘green’ have shown encouraging signs with efforts being made from within to adopt sustainable practices and implement a source-level solid waste management system on campuses.

Despite the university lacking a sustainable solid waste management protocol, the Department of Sociology has successfully turned its premises into a zero-waste institution through two years of focused efforts that involved doing away with plastics and other non-biodegradable products with eco-friendly alternatives.

According to Antony Palackal, head of the department, careful planning that included a ‘waste audit’ preceded the implementation of Project Dhatri action research project.

On a normal working day, the department used to generate nearly a quarter of a bucket of food wastes and 25 to 30 plastic wrappers. The quantity of wastes used to increase by around five times during seminars and open-defences that were organised in the department. The waste generated would be dumped in the backyard of the department premises and burnt occasionally. While the practice continued till 2019, the adoption of a sustainable waste management system ushered in a change.

The students of the department swung into action to ensure four major conferences that were conducted in the department adhered to green protocol. Their efforts earned them appreciation from the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation that has been working to spread the message of source-level waste disposal.

According to research scholar Vishnu J. Menon, who has been coordinating the efforts, inorganic waste reduction and food waste generation analysis were undertaken at the end of each event to fine-tune their efforts until a successful model was found.

A three-layered biocomposter bin was soon procured to collect food wastes and convert them into manure. The department trained its casual labourer into a ‘green technician’ equipped with the know-how of handling the bin. Plastic wastes that were generated in the department were being transferred to the Corporation’s material recovery facility in Kazhakuttom.

The department also succeeded in developing a garden on its premises using the manure generated by composting units. An indoor vertical garden with automatic drip irrigation system was also soon established to enhance greenery.

The department had submitted a proposal to replicate the waste management model across the Karyavattom campus, Dr. Palackal said.

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