Community Initiatives

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management Project

Kicking off the first phase of the New Learner Consortium (headed by Agastya and conducted in collaboration with HP Catalyst), 10 Young Instructor Leaders (YILs) partcipated in the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management Project held at the Agastya science centre in Bangalore from 26-31 March 2012.

The main objectives of the project was to:

  • Research, understand and document issues in management of MSW through STEM+ perspectives
  • Understand and document the magnitude of the problem on a global scale
  • Recognize best practices and seek solutions for the management of MSW
  • Disseminate these findings to the community at large

Throughout the course of the project, students had the chance to meet, learn, and interact with leading environmentalists, including Dr Yellappa Reddy, former Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, and Dr Meenakshi Bharath, award winner of Namma Bengaluru 2012.

Through presentations and activities, students learnt useful tips on an extensive range of MSW topics, such as reducing waste generation, segregation methods and differentiating between degradable and non-degradable materials.


Besides, YILs were also brought out into the field where they visited the MSW segregation and treatment yard (managed by Ramky Foundation) and several Best Practices Foundation solid waste management sites in Bangalore. 

As a closure to the six-day workshop, students conducted an open house whereby they presented their learnings to visitors and fellow peers. When asked what was the key message for visitors to take home, G. Mallikarjun, a YIL, exclaimed, “A tree to a home makes a forest to the village. We must grow more trees and save the earth!” 

With the successful conclusion of the first New Learner Consortium project, Agastya hopes to provide more platforms for students to use their technical and creative ingenuity to address urgent social challenges in their communities and around the world. 

Ecology on Wheels

Situated in a small corner of Agastya’s Kuppam campus is a 3,000 square feet green tent housing plants that Agastya propagates. Functioning as an incubator, the nursery provides a secure environment for young saplings to grow during the most vulnerable stages of their life. These plants are monitored and taken care of by in-house gardeners to make sure that they grow and blossom healthily. Once these saplings have matured sufficiently, they are loaded into Agastya’s Ecology mobile vans and distributed to the community via two routes (As of September 2012, over 3,000 saplings have been propagated in the Kuppam nursery). 

Night community visits

Operationalized in August 2007, night community visits started out as a sponsored initiative by Agilent Technologies to raise environmental awareness. In this initiative, ten ecology models dealing with issues on water, soil, energy and agriculture were developed and transported to villages all over Karnataka. Since then, several organizations, including UPS in 2009, have joined in to sponsor more mobile ecology vans.

At villages, Agastya staff use the models to educate villagers on the scale and nature of environment degradation, as well as ways to conserve the environment. The saplings and other medicinal plants are subsequently distributed to villagers.  

Ecology clubs 


The mobile vans also venture into schools located in Kuppam and around Karnataka. With the permission of the school staff, Agastya sets up plantations in school gardens. Saplings grown on campus are then distributed to surrounding communities upon maturity.


Agastya also sponsors the formation and activities of ecology clubs in school. Students who express interest in ecology are permitted to join the club where, apart from going on field trips, students help in the conduct of eco-related activities to create and raise environmental awareness in their respective communities.

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Agastya sincerely believes that through Ecology on Wheels, caring for the environment will become a value and practice of the common man. The fruits of labour might not have ripened yet, but through education, Agastya hopes to raise a new generation of leaders who will act responsibly towards the environment and take up ecological citizenship as a right of their own. Initial efforts have begun to yield gains – click on the photo to find out more!

Click to enlarge photo.