Waste not, want not

Concerned by the impact of a lack of environmental awareness, especially in poorer communities, 17-year-old science student, Asad Zaidi, started a campaign to educate hundreds of local people of the effect they were having on their environment and the influence the environment was having on them. 

Increasing pressure on Pakistan’s natural resources causes serious environmental degradation, and over-consumption results in a multitude of scarcity problems. Poor hygiene and a lack of clean water is causing increased poverty and significant health problems among the most vulnerable communities. Many are unaware of the risks of contaminated water, using the river for both drinking and waste. Seeing his community struggle to cope with these environmental difficulties, Asad realised the desperate need for knowledge amongst the students and community members in less developed areas. Inspired to make a difference whilst working on his Gold Award, Asad developed the ‘Environment Awareness Campaign’, in March 2009. 

Making an impact

The results have been staggering. Over 650 students and community members have seen or heard about the campaign and most importantly, school teachers and community leaders have also got involved.  This is not only developing a positive change in behaviour but also reducing the chances of local children and young people developing health problems. In addition, Asad has received huge encouragement from people in the community who have become more aware of their own environmental impact and have changed their behaviours as a result, for example by disposing of their rubbish in the appropriate facilities. The project has also resulted in economic benefit for the people of the town who are using less water and electricity, thus reducing their bills as well as conserving resources.

How the campaign developed

Keen to develop an initiative with sustainable impact, Asad recognised that key to the success of his project was to influence and involve as many people in the local community as possible. Initially working on his own, Asad soon persuaded four of his friends to support the campaign. Together they set about making interactive presentations, group discussions and field visits in schools, community centres and public places. As well as producing posters and holding meetings on street corners with community leaders, Asad also organised public clean-ups in places such as the Race Course Park and the tree plantation in the Changa Manga man-made forest.  

Said Asad: “I am really proud to have been recognised by the Peter Cruddas Social Innovation Initiative. This campaign is very simple and can be replicated very easily with minor changes in content and activities depending upon local environment and social situations of the concerned area. If Award participants are encouraged to take up such activities young people can bring about a big change in the environment and can reduce the health hazards faced by low income and vulnerable communities across the country.”