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NIRMALAYA COMPOSTING PROJECT
Every year Mumbai celebrates Ganesh Utsav – a festival honouring the deity Ganpati with great fervour. At the end of the ten-day festival, the idols are usually immersed in the lakes, creeks or the ocean. Along with the idol, are immersed various offerings, which include flowers, garlands and the décor. The Orchid took the initiative of helping to minimise the damage to our water sources by conducting a project whereby these offerings can be converted into organic manure instead of being dumped directly into the sea. The Orchid, in association with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation conducted a vermicomposting project of these floral offerings, commonly known as Nirmalaya. This involved collection of floral offerings made during the festive season, composting and creating organic manure. This was then distributed to interested ALMs. Dr. Sangole and Mrs. Sangole of the Pestom Sagar ALM association guided us through the initial process. All-in-all, about 200 tonnes of Nirmalaya was collected and consequently placed in vermiculture pits in a space at the Gorai landfill site provided by the BMC. The Orchid also distributed pamphlets to all the Ganesh Utsav Mandals (stalls) and on the beaches during the immersions extolling all to segregate waste and place the same in the Nirmalaya Kalash.

ALM contest 2004
on June 5, 2002, The Orchid ALM Trust was set up, consisting of people who really know and care about our environment. At the onset, the trust’s main objective was to carry out activities that would clean and green Mumbai, to create environmental consciousness amongst its citizens and to motivate them to partner with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) towards making the city a better place to live in.

Over the last few years, the various activities carried out by the ALM include promoting the creation of ALMs and assisting the existing ones, with the cooperation and support of the MCGM and US-AEP/USAID.

Among the various activities organised by The Orchid ALM Trust was the first ALM contest in Mumbai in the year 2004 that was conducted for the first time in Mumbai. Aimed to incentivize the exisiting ALM and create awareness amongst all on its benefits, the contest hoped to encourage setting up more of the kind. The contest was conducted with the support of the BMC, where waste segregation was the most qualifying point. Recently, the award winners were felicitated in a ceremony. Shri Johny Joseph, Municipal Commissioner, MCGM was the chief guest at the function and he gave away the awards to the winners at a function held at The Orchid.

anti plastic bag campaign
Plastic bags of 20 microns and less were creating a serious environmental hazard in the city of Mumbai. It was found that these plastic bags, which were ubiquitous in Mumbai, were choking the drains all over the city. This led to serious flooding problems during the monsoons, and major parts of this city would remain submerged for days on end due to this. Hence the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai decided to tackle this problem on a war footing.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai had from 15th August 2000 banned the use of plastic bags less than 20 microns. It had been publicized by the MCGM that the manufacture, recycling, possession and use of such prohibited bags are a serious offence. Under Section 390 and 394 of Municipal Corporation Act the Traders, Distributors and users can be fined upto Rs. 2000/- for each offence. Also the Shop/Trade Licenses can be cancelled. The manufacturers of these prohibited plastic bags can be fined upto Rs. One lakh and/or imprisoned upto 5 years.

The Orchid - An Ecotel Hotel, supporting the noble cause of the Municipal Corporation's ban on plastic bag had launched an inter-school competition wherein the schools would collect the old plastic bags from their homes and neighborhoods in return of which we would give them a cloth bag. The school collecting the highest average number of bags per child was to be invited to The Orchid for a felicitation followed by Dinner.

We sent the concept to 250 schools in Mumbai. We received an overwhelming response from schools who welcomed this initiative of ours with open arms.

For this purpose, to coincide with Teacher's Day, which falls on 5th September 2000, we also released advertisements in various leading newspapers of Mumbai.

The students took the campaign out to their homes and neighborhoods and as a result the awareness about the effects of plastic was spread by word of mouth to 7.8 million citizens of Mumbai. As the campaign made news headlines and was also actively carried by the television news channels the effect of the reach cannot be imagined! Thus a small effort on our part actually made big strides for the environment.

The result…?
43 schools covering 80,000 students,
Collected 750 kgs of used plastic bags
(Approximately 3000 plastic bags of 20 microns and below make 1 kg)
Today, Mumbai has 4.5 million square feet less of thin plastic to worry about!
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Nehru Road, Vile Parle East, Adjacent to Domestic Airport, Mumbai - 400 099.

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