Saturday, January 28, 2012

Environmental Initiatives Up Close: The World Challenge 2011

Everyone knows that saving the planet is a big project, but hats off to the people that actually make a difference, even if it’s small contribution! Under the World Challenge initiative from the UK, countries from every corner of the globe make it a point to try and make a difference in their environment. The projects are one of a kind!

For 2011, there were 12 finalists; each mission was unique in its own way – from the USA’s ‘Vertigo Farming’, to Uganda’s ‘Burning Concern’, all the participating countries tried their best to make a considerable difference to help the world.The runners up, Chile and India, and the winner of the year, Mongolia, were quite special!

Tech Crunch

E-waste is a problem for the environment as well as human wellbeing: soil and water is polluted with chemicals like lead and mercury, from the millions of gadgets thrown away every year. “Tech Crunch,” based in Chile, is a project that focuses on separating and retrieving materials such as copper from the e-waste, under a company called Recycla, the first (and only!) electronic waste initiative in Latin America. They’ve already recycled more than 6000 tons of waste and are aiming for more, with the help of several who have been “socially marginalized” – those that are left on the ‘fringes’ of society. Recycla seems to be a well-rounded company – helping the environment and the human community!

Trash to Gas

The Indian organization Hand in Hand is doing something equally remarkable – turning food waste into gas, through a project called “Trash to Gas”. In the historic South Indian town of Mahabalipuram, many hotels and restaurants produce up to 3 tons of organic waste per day and what used to end up in landfills, is now being collected by local people, and converted into methane. This gas powers a lot of the town, keeps it clean, and therefore, reduces the chances of diseases spreading. It’s a win-win situation! 

Interestingly enough, the Green Idea at Canadian International School, the environmental club that I run,  is doing something very similar. We’re using food waste from the cafeteria to produce biogas, which will in turn, be used for cooking. The unit finally got set up, and hopefully soon, we’ll be on the way to reducing the cafeteria’s carbon emissions!

Changing Spots

The winner of the 2011 World Challenge was Mongolia’s “Changing Spots”, a task taken up by Snow Leopard Enterprises, makes an attempt to better the lives of the country’s rural sheep herders, as well as increase the numbers of the endangered snow leopard in the area. The wild cats have long been enemies of the nomadic herdsmen, often killing the livestock. As a result, the communities are driven to poach the leopards for survival. The alternative offered to families allows them to make an extra $600 to $700 per year, by selling handicraft products made of wool to an international market. In return, they promise not to kill the snow leopards.  As of now, 28 villages and 350 households have caught on to the idea and it seems to be working – the numbers of the cat have increased. 

Surprisingly, something similar has been going on at school; we’ve been busy trying to ‘adopt’ an endangered animal through the World Wildlife Fund’s program. A quick lunchtime survey proved that the snow leopard was the most popular and the school has successfully pledged to ‘adopt’ one. Whether an intriguing coincidence, or meant to be, this is a sure sign that the snow leopards need help!

There are several more projects that you can see for yourself at! It’s amazing to see the number of initiatives that have sprung up to assist the environment; perhaps you can help in your country, in your own way! 


  1. Nice post Ramita. What India needs now is to preserve Tigers....!! I can also contribute to ur efforts to build up the environment greener...
    I can be reached at

    1. Thanks! Would love to get in touch and work with you! There's so much to do... Any ideas?