Manya Harsha is an 11-year-old sustainability influencer from Bangalore who is championing waste management her way. She is recycling kitchen waste to make chemical-free paper. The innovation would be a great alternative to the existing paper industry that is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
“Nothing in this world is a waste until you consider it a waste,” believes Manya Harsha. The 11-year-old from Bengaluru is recycling kitchen waste to make chemical free vegetable paper. She has written five books on environment conservation to date, the last of which was published in 2020. The sustainability champion has been conducting drives and campaigns to spread awareness, especially around India’s waste management system. She aspires to bring a positive shift in how we approach the garbage around us. UN-Water recognised her efforts on World Water Day.
Using Kitchen Waste to make Vegetable Paper
Manya follows a simple five-step process to create usable and foldable vegetable paper. It involves collecting, boiling, grinding, setting, and drying the kitchen waste to create a piece of paper. First, she gathers the peels of any vegetable. Manya suggests using specific peels to obtain the desired coloured paper. For instance, onion peels would make a purple coloured sheet. Second, she mixes the peels with some water and a spoon of baking soda in a cooker. Allow it to cook for about 3 hours. Manya continues, “When the time is up, we transfer the compound into a liquidiser and grind it to get the pulp.” The pulp mixture is spread onto a flat surface for the excess water to dry out. It can be done by spreading it on a sieve or thin cotton cloth. The spread is left overnight for it to set and get the sheet of coloured paper.
How did little Manya become an eco-warrior?
Manya, a class six student, grew up admiring the beauty of nature as she would listen to tales told by her grandmother, an art lover herself. Her parents would take her around green spaces and beaches for picnics. It exposed her to the vastness of natural beauty and the importance of conserving it. Consequently, the young leader grew passionate about environmental conservation. Her resolve became stronger after she participated in Kids Walkathon to Save Water in 2018.
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Manya has been quite active in conducting clean-up drives and campaigns. Deeply concerned and disturbed over the mess created by tourists at the Makonalli Dam, she and her father took up the task of cleaning the area themselves while encouraging people to use dustbins instead of careless waste disposal. Manya never forgets her cause even on vacation. She decided to undertake a solo clean-up drive at the Varca beach when she travelled to Goa last year. Extensive exposure to green spaces and concern over environmental destruction motivated her to take up the cause of environmental conservation.
Manya’s recycling mission began when she started recycling her old school notebooks to make handmade paper. She would use old newspapers to make paper bags and distribute them to local vendors to encourage them to use paper instead of plastic. Recently, the young activist came up with a green solution to wet waste management by recycling onion, pea, garlic, corn, carrot, turnip, waste, etc to make handmade vegetable paper. The paper is completely biodegradable and can be utilised for writing, drawing, and craft purposes. She has also succeeded in creating sheets from orange and banana peels and even coconut husk.
Other Environment Conservation initiatives of Manya
Manya believes, “Be the change you want to see, stop preaching and start practising. It is the right mantra to combat the ecological crisis.” On her 9th birthday, she planted 25 saplings in her school premises and distributed saplings in her residential society. On the 51st Earth Day, Manya took a pledge to plant 51 saplings around her apartment premises. The young activist is also the chief editor of a kid’s digital journal, Sunshine Fortnightly. Here, she inspires her readers to take up the cause of preserving nature. Through her digital platform, Manya has succeeded in reaching out to 46 volunteers for the tree plantation drive as a part of her ‘Each One Plant One Campaign.’ The 11-year old all-rounder has authored five books on environmental conservation. Besides, she has composed and recorded a Kannada rap on protecting nature, and the Strike Off Plastic anthem in her school.
Way Ahead for Manya Harsha
Manya wishes to reach out to people through any and every medium available to her. Be it writing, singing, signing petitions, or creating short animated videos. She has signed many petitions on change.org against deforestation in the name of urbanization in her city. During the pandemic, young Manya created animated short videos to spread awareness about the ecological crisis. Now, she is the ‘Youngest Animated Movie Maker’ to be recognized by the India Book of Records.
Manya believes in the power and ability of the youth to build a cleaner and greener world. She believes it is high time that the environment stops paying the cost of man’s greed. We all should own up to our responsibilities and take the right actions. She plans to undertake more campaigns and drives and encourage people to join hands with her for the cause. “Nothing is more appealing to the human eye than the sight of flowers blossoming under the blue sky,” adds Manya, hopeful for a world free of environmental problems in the future.
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