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The early years

When I used to be in high school in the late nineties, a popular trend amongst my peers mandated that when we were done sucking out the last bit of minty delight from our chewing gum, then it be stuck onto the bottom of our classroom desks. Since going against peer pressure was not really an option, I went along but didn't really feel the pleasure that was supposed to accompany that act. It just felt silly to me that I could go to a bin a few feet away and throw my gum in there. While I would happily walk the distance to a waste bin at school, the bullies dictated that it was uncool to walk to the bin and you had to make one of the 'losers' walk to the bin. Let's just say, I didn't want to join the lesser gang. (Flash forward to today, I think about how much of the littering that happens around us, happens out of inane societal pressures.)

By age 15, my mind was beginning to question some of these strange things we did, and I had started to think about how we could stop making the same old mistakes. It started off with a very tiny act of waste management - when anyone threw a paper on the floor, I became the one to pick it up and put it in a bin. It felt good, I remember.

My parents had another anecdote to regale all their friends and relatives with, "We had to force her to buy things - clothes, toys, accessories - she always said she had enough." This was possibly another sign of the non-consumerist living inside of it.

During the 11th and 12th grade, I was fortunate to have moved to an IB school in Bangalore where my mind was expanded through environmental science lessons, philosophical conversations with our teachers, weekend walks outside of school to just be in nature and observe, school camping trips, amongst others. 'Detention' punishments involved picking up garbage bags and gloves and heading out all over the school campus to collect garbage.

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