Dubai: A recycle bin for Oud Metha, please! – A signature campaign by Shashwik Shetty

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(Lily B. Libo-on – KT) 8 September 2013

Dubai: Thirteen-year-old Shashwik Shetty looks very simple, but is full of energy and enthusiasm that lead him to start a signature campaign initiative for a recycle bin in the Oud Metha locality.

He also collected 1,650kgs of old newspapers and more than 70kgs of plastic bottles from the neighbourhood.

He painstakingly collected them since July this year as he wanted his summer vacations to be fruitful and productive. His only hope is for the Dubai government to provide a recycle bin around his area, opposite Al Nasr Leisureland and Lamcy Plaza, a bustling commercial area that is milling thousands of newspapers, cans, plastic bottles, and other kinds of trash day after day.

“I love to do it. It is fun interacting with people, especially in the signature campaign to get a recycle bin. I have deposited the old newspapers that I had collected to Emirates Environmental Group. I am one of the 30 core members of the Green Hope UAE group, a group comprising kids in the agegroup of 8-16. But, any age group can join us in promoting a greener future.”

Shetty has collected a hundred signatures from residents of two buildings of his locality, and the signature campaign is still going on. “I look forward to a day when all these recyclable items can be put to use. A used notebook is a product of three trees that grow for years to give us its pages to be used in school,” Shetty says.

Pallavi Kelkar, 50, an Oud Metha resident, who signed and endorsed the signature campaign, says she supported the campaign because people need a recycle bin in this area. “Earlier, there was a recycle bin near the American Hospital. But, it was removed a year ago. I appeal to the Dubai government to put one, so we can participate in recycling our trash instead of just throwing it into the dust bin.”

A neighbour of Shetty, Dhruv Singh, is also supporting him in getting the signatures of residents in the two buildings. “Having a recycle bin in our area is a pretty good idea. If we won’t act now, 20 to 30 years from now, situation could get worse,” Singh says.

Singh is studying in London, but he visits his home in Dubai every three months. This summer he is helping Shetty to get 100 signatures to show they mean business when requesting for a recycle bin that will also enable them to participate in recycling the waste. “Before I went to London, I worked with the Emirates Wildlife Society, and participated in cleaning up campaigns of beaches and mangroves in Abu Dhabi two years ago. So, I am very much eager to support Shetty in drumming up awareness among people to collect newspapers, plastic bags and plastic bottles,” he says.

Shetty started collecting plastic bottles from more than 12 hotels and a hundred restaurants around his area since Ramadan, and in a month’s time collected more than 70kgs of these recyclable items. “Hotels and restaurants cannot store water as this is against the Dubai law. So, I collect these plastic bottles with my mum and deposit them in my house while waiting for the recycle bin.”

“Every day, there is so much trash collected in our homes, but sadly at the end of the day, it all goes down the dump. If the facility of a recycle bin would be available, we residents could separate the wet trash and the dry trash, recycle it, and thereby contribute to the betterment of our mother earth,” Shetty declares.

Savitha Shetty, 42, mother of Shashwik, says she learns a lot from her youngest son – one of her two sons. “He draws on a tissue paper and sells them to kids his age for Dh2. All the proceeds he donates to the Rashid Pediatric Centre. He writes stories and poems, draws excellently and is very active in cricket. He is the captain of his under-13 cricket team at the Indian High School in Dubai, garnering the Most Promising Player award in 2012’s under-13 and under-16 competition in London, and “Best Bowler” award in the under-13 competition in New Castle, UK this year. He is also the headboy of his school,” she adds. Shetty’s father, Divakar, 50, and wife Savitha consider themselves lucky parents for having a very talented child. “Whatever we tell him, he always follows. He always wants everything perfect in life,” Divakar says. His mum says: “He is always focused. He puts all his energy and time to whatever he is doing at the moment.”

As to the future, Shetty has told Khaleej Times his dream to become a space scientist one day. He dreams of setting up an animal sanctuary as he loves to take care of animals

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