Caring for the environment has always been part of most of the areas of focus of RI, said incoming RI president Shekhar Mehta at the Rotary convention, talking about Rotary’s role in environmentalism and how it has been adopted as an area of focus.
Rotary’s WASH programmes have included building check dams, rejuvenating water bodies and water harvesting. “Even if the programme is about water and sanitation, it also addresses the environment. Similarly, when we built toilets in schools and villages, they took care of the health and hygiene of children and adults, in addition to addressing proper sanitation for the surrounding areas,” he pointed out. A menstrual hygiene management programme is a health and an environment programme as well. “When we began promoting reusable cloth sanitary pads, this helped to address women’s health and with the elimination of the plastic element from disposable napkins, we could make it eco-friendly.”
Mehta highlighted the various environment-friendly initiatives being implemented by Rotary clubs world over, including installation of solar panels, recycling and encouraging tree plantation in communities.
Environmentalism can lead to new business opportunities as well, he said and highlighted how the introduction of reusable sanitary pads has given income generation opportunities to women’s self-help groups. When Rotary clubs distribute the saplings of fruit-bearing trees in villages and semi-urban areas, they not only enhance the green cover but also provide a source of livelihood for the villagers, he added.
Focus on environmental care has given huge savings in businesses and career opportunities come up in energy audit, organic stores, waste recycling, etc “when we start concentrating on environmental care,” he said.