Sensitizing Children on the Impact of Waste (Back-to-Earth)

With rising urbanization and change in lifestyle and food habits, the amount of municipal solid waste has been increasing rapidly. During 1947, cities and towns in India generated an estimated 6 million tons of solid waste, and in 1997 it was about 48 million tons. As per the statistics, more than 25% of the municipal solid waste is not collected at all; 70% of the Indian cities lack adequate capacity to transport it, and there are no sanitary landfills to dispose of the waste. The existing landfills are neither well equipped nor well managed to protect against soil and groundwater contamination.

Most of all, over the last few years, the consumer market has grown rapidly leading to products being packed in cans, aluminium foils, plastics, and other such non-biodegradable items that cause incalculable harm to the environment.

The environment has been depleting due to the harmful effects of the increasing waste, and it is extremely important to take necessary preventive measures to reduce these to safeguard our own future. Initiating an action to counter the impact of waste management, TERI conceptualized this planned education and outreach initiative “Back to Earth” to help generate an understanding of waste management issues across Delhi. This pilot programme was implemented in partnership with State Bank of Hyderabad, Scope Complex.


Initiated in October 2014, ‘Back-to-Earth’ engaged children in creative thinking and helped them develop competence in waste management, through various innovative educational and outreach components such as books, educational kits, learning material, brainstorming sessions and practical experience. This programme strengthened the students’ knowledge on waste management and the importance of 4Rs (Refuse Reuse Reduce Recycle) by making them aware of the need to take necessary actions to conserve the environment.

The programme engaged the students and the teachers from seven participating schools – Kendriya Vidyalaya, Shalimar Bagh; Air Force Bal Bharati, Lodhi Road; Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Lodhi Estate; Shyama Prasad Vidyalaya, Lodhi Estate; Sarvodaya Co-Ed Vidyalaya, Vasant Vihar; Government Co-Ed Senior Secondary School, Mayur Vihar; Father Agnel School, Gautam Nagar.

The programme was implemented in three phases in the selected seven schools for the children aged between 8 to 14 years. The students interacted with experts on waste management and gained first-hand experience on the impact of waste on the environment. They also underwent pre- and post-evaluation exercises based on the issues of rising waste. In the post-evaluation round, the students across the participating schools reflected on the higher level of awareness and understanding on various issues of waste, which were discussed during the first phase of the programme.


  • Build consciousness on the significance of waste management
  • Educate, train, stimulate, and encourage young children to initiate small steps towards waste management and recycling
  • Motivate children to be environmentally responsible in their homes, schools, and localities
  • Create a network of young citizens working towards the common goal of preserving and conserving the planet
  • Sensitize people and build an informed group of citizens to promote environmental sustainability


  • Educational Resource Material: Waste management modules, activity sheets, waste board game, evaluating sheets, documentaries and films
  • Interactions: Workshop and discussion sessions for students and teachers, meeting the expert sessions, painting workshop, paper-bag making workshop, inter-school events
  • Acknowledgement: Awards and recognitions to students and schools
  • Infrastructure Support: RO purifier/water cooler installation at beneficiary schools
  • Communication Material: Making posters, banners, standees, badges, and TerraGreen magazine


In the concluding phase, the students and schools were acknowledged for their contribution and their efforts in driving the programme. Under this programme, purifying drinking water systems were installed at all the beneficiary schools, thereby enabling safe drinking water for the students and the teaching staff.

Sponsor: State Bank of Hyderabad, Scope Complex

Duration: 11 months

Key Stakeholders: School students, teachers, parents/local communities where the beneficiary students and teachers reside.

Watch flim on: Back to Earth - Knowledge on waste management.

TERI-SBH initiative 'Back to Earth' engaged children into creative thinking and helped in developing their competence in waste management, through various innovative educational and outreach components like books, educational kits, learning material, and brainstorming sessions.


The programme impacted over 3000 students and provided them with an understanding of a sustainable lifestyle, and also promoted the habit of reading.

Future Relevance

Ambit of this program is likely to increase manifold in the next phase as we are planning to replicate the pilot projects in larger school clusters and in new states to increase the level of awareness about waste management at the grassroots level.

Posted on: 14 September 2015  |   Project status: Completed