Shining Hope Foundation works to provide sustainable developments in health, education and society. But our projects extend further – and often have a positive and lasting impact on the environment. This forms a key part of our founding mission to promote sustainability and harmony between people, animals and nature.
One area we’ve begun working in recently is tackling the prevalence of non-biodegradable plastic bags in India. These can take between 400 and 1,000 years to break down, can cause over 100,000 animal deaths every year as they are mistaken for food, and make up nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans. India does have a nationwide ban on thinner plastic bags, but because enforcement is difficult, millions are affected by this icon of our throwaway culture.
Shining Hope Foundation’s solution is a simple one. We’ve begun distributing jute bags, similar to tote bags used widely in the West, to patients that attend our medical clinics and our non-formal education students and teachers. In the past three months alone, this initiative has given away 3,660 bags. We hope this small change will go on to make a big difference in tackling India’s problem with plastic bags.
As part of another initiative, we’ve begun supporting a rainwater harvesting programme in Bihar. Outside of the monsoon season, water can be in short supply, especially in India’s rural areas. Our rainwater collection programme means that people in need of water know that they have enough water for themselves, their crops and other uses throughout the year. Since we started this project at the end of last year, we’ve funded the installation of water tanks across 18 homes in three separate villages, with three tanks provided to a school in the area too.
Of course, we couldn’t write about Shining Hope Foundation’s environmental impact without talking about our solar grandmothers programme, which has been an immense success. The solar programme has been running in three rural villages – J.P. Nagar, Kharati and Banahi for more than two years now. We have since supported its expansion, meaning it now reaches another nearby village which is one of the most deprived in the region – Bhupnagar. As a result of the demand from the community, we have installed solar lights and electricity in an additional 31 homes in the villages with the help of our new solar engineers. Not only does this have great social benefits in tackling inequality, furthering personal development, and supporting women’s rights in the region, there is a huge environmental impact too. Homes no longer need to use expensive oil and paraffin lamps, which generate large amounts of air pollution that fill people’s homes and lungs. In addition, these lamps are expensive to make and have a significant environmental production cost. Now, each of these individual homes and villages in their own way are making a small change to make a big difference to climate change.
This year’s UN World Environment Day – commemorated today (5th June) – focuses on raising your voice, not the sea level. With the entire coast of India under threat from rising sea levels, as well as the estuary and basin of the River Ganges, the changing climate is an issue which could have a serious impact on the lives of thousands of people. Our projects are helping to prevent this, and are making sustainable changes which means we can protect our planet, our seas and our environment for generations to come.
If you’re interested in protecting the environment and
helping us tackle climate change in a sustainable way,
donate what you can and with your small change, together we can make a big difference.