Amma and the Plastic Challenge
Amma was presented with the results of the Plastic Challenge in the form of a PowerPoint presentation while on the US tour. She had a very positive reaction when shown the plastic challenge results and was very happy it is happening. She suggested that the Challenge go out to schools, and the kids can be encouraged to take the scavenger hunt home, like the Atlanta Bala Kendra kids did. Now AYUDH is excited about that and they want to participate, especially since the suggestion came from Amma Herself.

She said, "It is important to go out and teach the kids in schools. They can have a scavenger hunt/audit for their houses."

After a few cities, Amma personally started announcing at the end of the Atma Puja talk and meditation for everyone to stop using plastic.

(You can calculate your plastic footprint HERE)

Among other things, Amma had the following responses upon seeing the results of the Plastic Challenge:

  • Plastic is a big problem. Each item we buy comes with a plastic bag. There is even plastic in our sea salt because of all the pollution in the ocean
  • Kerala banned plastic bags 5 years ago. Containers are brought for each thing
  • Disposable sanitary napkins are not good for the environment
  • Everyone should bring cloth bags to the grocery store
  • Plates can be made from tree bark. They have nutrients too, but then we're using a lot of paper. Amma will send tree bark plates to the States so they'll have Her blessing


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When Amma was shown to "plarning" photo at right, she said that reusing plastic is better than recycling, as recycling releases CO2 gas. (To learn more about "plarn", see Reusing Plastic Bags to Create Sleeping Mats for the Homeless).

At the Dallas program, Amma and Swamini stopped by the Green Friends plarn ball area on their way out of the hall and Amma called the plarn ball seva "Sadhana". The Green Friends youth enjoyed showing Amma the sleep mat for the homeless and the plarn balls they were creating and were happy to hear Amma call this seva a spiritual practice!


Edmond, Oklahoma has joined with an Edmond christian church to reuse plastic bags to create plastic sleeping mats for the homeless

In Boston, when shown a scaled-down version of the 3-step Plastic Challenge poster created by the DC ashram, Amma turned to look at it several times. Then She then pointed to the picture of plastic bottles and said that at Amrita University, students have been collecting plastic bottles and creating furniture such as stools and chairs with them. They presented a chair to Amma who blessed them by sitting in it. She also said they had made a boat out of bottles.


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Source Reduction on Tour

The Source Reduction table looked wonderful and had many visitors. Besides the 3 Step Plastic Challenge poster and another poster designed by an AYUDH member, it had a tablet where visitors could calculate their footprint using a GreenFriends calculator created by a devotee in Dallas. They could also watch a short video about plastic and make a pledge if they chose. 120 visitors calculated their footprint and the results are presented here: The table also had reusable bamboo cutlery and a 4-pack of stainless steel straws for sale. The Amma shop reported that the sales of these items went well.

AYUDH (an international youth movement) and Source Reduction

At the AYUDH Summit held at the Chicago ashram in early August, AYUDH will be conducting their own Source Reduction project with a focus on plastic reduction. The project chosen would be a "plastic bag drive" in schools where AYUDH will collect platic bags and other hard to recycle plastics and "upcycle them". The collection boxes will have facts and information about plastic usage and issues. A sub-project will be to use this opportunity to educate youth on source reduction and plastic reduction as Amma had suggested.

Source Reduction Workshop

A workshop was conducted at the AYUDH Summit on Source Reduction that was attended by about 12 youths. The 3-Step Plastic Challenge was introduced to them along with a few videos, one on the problem with plastic and another video that was created in the Embracing the World style about the 3-Step Plastic Challenge. The attendees calculated their footprints using the GreenFriends calculator Some observations: .

  • Attendees said they view plastic consumption "as a really big issue" that they'd "like to know more about"
  • The attendees had seen many of the key elements from the video through different social media sources
  • There was more in-depth discussion on the campaign results and the attendees talked about some of the really good feedback tht was received. In addition to some numeric results, there were a lot of sub-projects that people felt inspired to do.
  • Two high-school students showed photos of a project they did at their school where used plastic milk jug bottles, painted them and then used them to create art work them. They said such projects could be done in schools with limited or no funding for art projects
  • The upbeat here’s-how-we-can-make-change video appeared to be more inspiring to the youth than the compilation of videos illustrating the harmful effects of plastic (whereas adults appeared to be inspired by seeing the issue with plastic).
  • The attendees largely wanted to focus on trying to make a change within their household by helping their parents become more aware of alternatives.

At the end of the workshop, the group was joined by about 10 ABK participants who paired up with th.e AYUDH group to play a game on plastic facts


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