The busy Palayam market in Thiruvananthapuram witnessed some unique activities on Monday, 19 November, as school and college students were seen interacting with shoppers and asking them to replace plastic carry bags with cloth bags and to plant saplings at the corporation office ground.This group of students was on an organic mission: to trash-hunt and segregate waste properly; to create awareness among people to not use plastic; to inform them about the City corporation’s material recovery facilities; and to ask them to plant tree saplings for the future.They also carried out an extensive marketing audit on the products that come in plastic bottles and packets as well as the companies that produce them. The students who were on this mission are part of ‘Green Army’, a one-of-its-kind team formed by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation.#Good News: Tamil Nadu Gets Its First Transgender LawyerWhat is Green Army?After Haritha Nararothsavam, a green-city festival in April 2017, the Thiruvananthapuram civic body initiated a team called Green Army, headed by students from 40 schools, with 50 students each from one school.The aim is to spread the message ‘your waste is your responsibility’ and in the long run, develop a noble waste management culture in the city. This is also to enable children to take these messages back home and hence create awareness at their homes.Thanal, an NGO based in Thiruvananthapuram, working on waste management and environment-friendly initiatives, is providing technical support to ‘the army.Three health inspectors of the corporation have been training the students to avoid the use of plastic and to use eco-friendly materials instead. The training was given during last summer vacation, with the support of National Service Scheme and National Cadet Corps.New Solutions to Waste ManagementIn January this year, a campaign called ‘Green Congress’ was conducted at government-run Model School. A ‘green protocol’ was strictly followed at in this congress.“As part of the green protocol, the Green Army students of the school made ‘plastic arrest’ to the make the school campus plastic-free. Students who came to school with plastic bags were asked to leave these bags outside the campus and were also charged Rs 10. The amount and the bag were returned when they left the campus,” explains says V Nikhilesh Paliyath, zero waste and climate action coordinator of Thanal.#GoodNews: India’s 1st Elephant Hospital Opens in UP’s MathuraStudents of the army were also introduced to organic farming, climate change and how it is their responsibility to conserve the environment, says Nikhilesh, who has been coordinating the Green Army activities with the corporation.Elucidating the eco-friendly waste management and the plastic-free initiatives of these students, Nikhilesh adds, “In St Mary’s Higher Secondary School Pattom, the students replaced disposable ball pens with ink pens and pens that can be used with refills. At PSNM Government Higher Secondary Pattom, students can now make cloth bags on their own.”The next Green Congress activities will be conducted in December this year at SNV School.What Next?As its next step, the corporation is planning to form a Green Army in all schools under its jurisdiction in the next academic year. “After the deluge, the students of Green Army were actively involved in collecting material for the affected people. Hence, they have been trained for a greater social responsibility, and we are taking it forward,” NV Anil Kumar, corporation health inspector, one of the trainers of the students says.“We learnt that some other civic bodies are also planning to form similar green armies and it is a great move if they did,” he adds.#GoodNews: Meet Rafia Rahim, Budgam’s First Female Radio Jockey(This story was originally published on The News Minute and has been republished in an arrangement.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.