Turning trash into treasure: Youth for Parivarthan’s Recyclothon transforms waste into hope for rural schools

Bengaluru earning a "Garbage City" title made Amith Amaranth lead a successful mission to make it a cleaner and greener city.

ByDeeksha Devadiga

Published Jun 16, 2024 | 1:56 PM Updated Jun 18, 2024 | 12:09 PM

Recyclothon focuses on recycling used notebooks from schools and transforming them into new, usable books for students in rural Karnataka. (Supplied)

What would your city earning a “Garbage City” title make you do? For Bengaluru-based Amith Amaranth, it is a successful mission to lead it into a cleaner and greener city.

In 2014, Amarnath founded an NGO, Youth for Parivarthan (YFP),  to create a cleaner and greener Bengaluru out of a desire to tackle the city’s mounting garbage problem.

Since its inception, YFP has grown into a movement, amassing over 10,000 registered volunteers and organising more than 370 cleanup drives across Bengaluru.

Also Read: Kerala wins world record for greening waste dumps

Genesis of Youth for Parivarthan

Amaranth shared the origin story of YFP with palpable passion.

Founder Amith Amaranth started YFP in 2014 with small group. (Supplied)

“In 2014, Bangalore was in the global news for all the wrong reasons. As a native Bangalorean, it was embarrassing to see our city being called the ‘Garbage City’. Complaints were rampant, but solutions were scarce,” he recalls.

Driven by the desire to make a difference, Amarnath and a few friends decided to clean up a local children’s park that had been turned into a dumping ground.

They organised a cleanup event through Facebook, and to their surprise, the response was overwhelming.

This small act of civic duty laid the foundation for what would become a large-scale movement.

Among their many initiatives, the Recyclothon stands out as a beacon of sustainability and community engagement.

This program, which began in 2019, focuses on recycling used notebooks from schools and transforming them into new, usable books for students in rural Karnataka.

The initiative not only addresses waste but also supports education in underserved areas.

The Recyclothon initiative

Speaking to South First, Amaranth detailed how the Recyclothon project tackles the issue of waste generated from used school notebooks.

“Every academic year, tons of notebooks with many unused pages are discarded. In 2019, we decided to address this by collecting these notebooks, segregating the unused sheets, and binding them into new books,” he said.

The first year was challenging, with only 300 books created due to the labour-intensive process of spiral binding.

However, the initiative saw a significant leap post-Covid, with 3,300 books produced in 2022 and over 5,000 in 2023, thanks to a switch to a more efficient stapling method.

Also Read: Young professionals empower government school students through ‘Code for Karnataka’ 

Book distribution and its impact

Youth for Parivarthan

Akshith M Tholakatalli has been with YFP since he was 14. (Supplied)

These recycled books are distributed to government schools in the most remote and underprivileged districts of Karnataka.

Akshith M Tholakatalli, who has been with YFP since he was 14, described the joy and gratitude of the recipients.

“In rural areas, every sheet of paper is precious. We’ve seen children write with pencils on used sheets to save paper. These books make a huge difference in their education,” he said.

The selection of schools is a meticulous process, prioritizing those in backward districts. Once the books are ready, YFP collaborates with transportation companies to deliver them.

This year, they are set to distribute books to 29 schools across 17 districts.

Behind the scenes

YFP is supported by an ever-growing base of volunteers. (Supplied)

The success of YFP’s initiatives is driven by a robust and passionate core team of 34 members, supported by an ever-growing base of volunteers.

Social media plays a crucial role in their operations, from organising events to raising funds through crowdfunding campaigns.

Kaushik, a software engineer and the treasurer of YFP has been a pillar of support since the early days.

His dedication, along with his artistic talents has been integral to YFP’s success.

The organisation’s efforts were even recognised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his “Mann Ki Baat” programme.

YFP’s motto, “Stop Complaining, Start Acting,” resonates deeply with its volunteers.

Despite their busy schedules as students and professionals, the team dedicates their weekends to YFP’s causes. Amarnath, an advocate by profession, emphasises the sense of community and collective responsibility that keeps them motivated.

The role of volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of YFP. The organisation has partnered with engineering colleges and offers internships, allowing students to contribute and earn credits.

These young volunteers, gain invaluable experience and a sense of fulfilment from their work.

Youth for Parivarthan

YFP volunteers at the Recyclothon initiative. (Supplied)

“Every Sunday, we wake up early, not out of obligation but out of a sense of purpose,” Akshith said.

“We’ve built friendships, learned leadership skills, and most importantly, realised the power of collective action.”

Youth for Parivarthan continues to inspire change, one cleanup drive and Recyclothon at a time.

They invite citizens to join their mission, emphasising that change starts with small, consistent actions.

As Amarnath puts it, “If we all contribute a little, together we can build a better society.”

Youth for Parivarthan urges everyone to get involved, through volunteering, contributing financially, or simply spreading the word.

Their collective efforts demonstrate that community-driven initiatives can create lasting positive change.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)

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