No Waste – Call for Action

No Waste

In my last few posts, I have already written about “What happens to our waste?” and “What can we do about it?” If you have not already read those posts, read them now before continuing. In this post, I am going to list down a ‘call to action’ plan where I intend to implement dry waste segregation, collection and recycling in residential apartments across Bangalore and Delhi/NCR. I am already involved in some waste management related activities in Bangalore for the last few months. Apart from that, I am participating in Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) and as part of that, I have to do a community project. So I am taking this up to fulfill both the above objectives…

What I want to accomplish is to implement dry waste segregation at source (into paper, plastic, others) in residential apartment complexes and ensure the segregated waste is sold to the recycler. This will reduce the waste going out to landfills by a good percentage (60-80%) and also generate income for the residential apartment. This income can be used in the welfare/salary of the housekeeping staff in these apartments. So lets get to the plan now and see how do we go about executing the “No Waste” initiative –

Step 1 – Talk to the group managing day to day affairs of the apartment and educate them about the “No Waste” initiative.

Step 2 – Do a door to door educational / awareness campaign educating the residents about the need to segregate waste and its advantages.

Step 3 – Distributing colored bags for three different levels of segregation of waste. Step 2 and 3 can be clubbed together.

Step 4 – Doing weekly collection of the segregated dry waste (every Sat/Sun) from the residents, educating the residents at the same time if they have not done it properly, or educating the households which are not participating.

Step 5 – Organizing a event where residents / maids / housekeeping staff will be educated about the need for waste segregation. Some NGO will come and readily help us with this. Can be done independent of the other steps.

Step 6 – Storing the collected waste in the apartment complex, where it can be picked up by the recycling company or some NGO where it can be recycled. This can be done on weekly or fortnightly basis depending on quantity of waste generated.

Step 7 – Revenue generated from selling off recyclable material can be used to promote the campaign and to pay the salary of the housekeeping staff involved in the same.

Lets stop dumping our waste into landfills

Lets stop dumping our waste into landfills

So it will be a win-win situation for all. It will be good for the environment as the waste going to landfills will be reduced drastically. It will be good for the industry as it will get recyclable paper/plastic for use as raw material and reduce their input costs. It will be good for the housekeeping staff as it will generate income from the sale of recyclable material which can be used for their welfare. The only thing required is a little effort from our side. So lets join hands to make this a reality.

So if you live in an apartment complex and want to implement this there, get in touch with me. If you know anyone who is willing to take this up, get me contacted to that person. And if you want to be a part of this project but don’t live in an apartment, there is still a lot you can do, so get in touch with me. You can call me at +91-9916532966 or ping me online.

Current Status – Step 1 and 2 have been done in many (8+) apartments and all steps (till step 7) in around 5-6 apartments. Kudos to all those involved!!

What can we do about our waste?

This is my third post on my “No Waste” initiative. Do read “What happens to our waste?” if you have not already done so. In this post, I will list out the eco-friendly ways we can dispose off our waste so that all the harmful effects can be minimized. They are very easy to implement, and can generate revenue and employment for people too!! Some of the most important things to know about waste management are –

1. Segregation at source – Segregation at source means separating our waste into dry, wet and toxic waste at the source. Which would mean keeping the dry waste (paper, plastic, glass) separate from the wet waste (leftover food, fruit peels, other kitchen waste) and toxic waste (medical waste, e-waste). When we separate our waste and store it separately, it becomes very easy for the next step to kick in. Dry waste can be recycled and reused, Wet waste can be turned into compost and all toxic waste can be disposed off safely. When all these are mixed, neither recycling nor composting can happen and we end up polluting our atmosphere, soil and ground water.

2. Recycling of Dry Waste – Dry waste (paper, plastic, glass) must be further segregated after which they can be sold to the recyclers who will recycle the materials. But as this is only possible if we properly segregate all dry waste, making segregation the key. This sale of dry waste can generate some income for the household, in addition to the fact that this waste will now be recycled and not just dumped in landfills.

3. Composting of Wet Waste – All wet waste (kitchen waste, left over food) can be turned into nutrient rich manure by a process called composting. Composting is the natural decomposition of food waste into manure which can be mixed with the soil to enrich it. It can be used in our home gardens, thus preventing our expense on fertilizers and chemicals.

As you would have seen, if we implement the above steps in our households, we can reduce the waste going out to landfills totally (or by 80-90% atleast). Thats why the term “No Waste“. And yes, it is that simple. Nothing complex. And its a win win situation for all. It will generate employment for people involved in waste collection and recycling, generate income from the waste sold, prevent the expenditure on fertilizers and reduce the waste going out to landfills drastically, thus resulting in a greener planet.

The only thing required here is an initiative to educate people about this and implement this. It has already been successfully implemented in a few places in Bangalore, like Diamond District, Sadashivanagar, Christ College, etc. I am working on a “Call to Action” plan and will be out with it shortly which will give the opportunity to like minded citizens to take bold leadership initiatives in their localities/apartments to implement a “No Waste” plan and do their bit in proper waste disposal.

Why screw the planet?

Lots and lots of plastic bottles lying around

Lots and lots of plastic bottles lying around

We live in a developing country,

With a heavy cultural and religious bend!

Let us look at what we leave behind,

When we confidently go with the trend!!

Our economy is growing leaps and bounds,

The world watched amazed during the recession!

That growth generates a huge amount of waste,

Which when dumped looks like a big ocean!!

Our world today is driven by consumerism,

And every thing we use is disposable!

Our environment was never meant to cope with,

All the garbage that we leave on the table!!

We celebrate our festivals with grandeur,

But most have been taken over by hooliganism!!

We pollute air, water and land alike,

In this environment, can religion really blossom?

Most of the garbage end up in landfills,

Where huge amounts of greenhouse gases are released!

We do not understand the gravity of the problem,

And need to act before our planet is termed as deceased!!

We have already had a few eco-disasters,

With many more waiting to happen!

We need to wake up and act soon,

Before it is too late for any action!!

Let us realise while we can,

That we are losing time minute by minute,

Anyways we have 6 billion people around,

So why do we have to screw the planet?

Trashing our earth

Trashing our earth

To know what happens to our waste after we dump it, click here

What happens to our waste?

This is my second post on my “waste management” initiative after my first one. Also read my poem on waste “Why screw the planet?

We generally term everything that goes into our dustbins as “waste“. Every day, tons of waste is generated in households, shops, markets, offices, educational institutions and others. For Bangalore itself, 3000 tons of waste is produced daily while the figure stands at 7000 tons in Delhi. We often put all our waste (paper, plastic, food waste, e-waste) into a single bin. From there we either throw it out on the road or some open plot, or the municipal body collects it from us. What happens to this waste from here on? Where is this huge amount of waste which we are generating everyday in our “throw-away” lifestyle going?

Kids picking up recyclables from trash

Kids picking up recyclables from trash

First of all, let me mention the little part which is actually recycled. You must have seen rag-pickers and waste-pickers picking up plastic and other materials from the waste lying on the roads. Most of these people are extremely poor, illiterate and belong to rural immigrant families. Many of them are kids who have never attended school. They collect our waste in most unhygienic conditions and are subjected to chemical poisons and infections. They are invisible entrepreneurs reusing and recycling our waste, reducing demand for natural resources. They are doing a huge public service to us and to our nation – for free. And yet, they get chased by dogs and abused by everyone. What an irony!!!

A normal sight in our towns

A normal sight in our towns

Lets take the case of burning of garbage now. As Indians we have got used to burning of garbage and that sight does not alarm us. Well, it should!! Because, it takes only five ounces of burning PVC to give off enough hydrogen chloride gas to kill someone in an average sized room in just TEN MINUTES. Even if it is not severe, it can cause the risk of damage to lungs, kidneys and liver. Long and continuous exposure to smoke and toxins (which appear harmless) can cause chronic diseases like bronchitis, emphysema and cancer. Apart from health effects, burning trash releases pollutants like dioxins, ash, furans, halogenated hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, lead, barium, chromium, cadmium, carbon dioxide, arsenic and mercury into the atmosphere resulting in global warming and ozone layer depletion.

Dumping trash in a landfill

Dumping trash in a landfill

Apart from recycling and burning of garbage, most of it reaches the landfill, which is a large open area where the garbage is dumped, covered by soil and left to decompose. Decomposing might take hundreds to thousands of years, and some materials never decompose. Landfills pollute and contaminate the ground water and soil. Animals like raccoons, rats, insects, cockroaches are attracted towards the area creating a health risk in the area. Landfills also release methane gas from decomposing garbage which is a dangerous greenhouse gas. Moreover, landfills are not a solution as it encourages garbage creation. It takes away land from humans and other animals and considering the amount of trash we generate these days, we may soon run out of land to use as landfills.

Living in a society driven by consumerism we have come to accept the “use and throw” and “disposable” attitude as a way of life. It is our responsibility that we take care of the waste we generate to ensure a healthy environment to live in for our kids and future generations. Although it might look like a big problem with no solutions, garbage is not a problem. In fact, waste is a resource in disguise. Using the term “garbage” let us see it only as a problem and not an opportunity. Seeing it as a resource can present enormous opportunities to us, for better disposing and recycling, for reducing pollution, for creating employment and businesses, and for making our earth safer and beautiful to live in. I will share more about these opportunities in future posts, so watch out for more.

Take a look at the below slideshow to know more and what we can do about it…

New Initiative – “No-Waste”

I am writing this post after a gap of more than a month. Over the last month or so, I have got introduced to the idea of “Waste Management” and have been doing some information gathering on the same. For those who have no idea what I am talking about, Waste Management is the collection, processing, recycling, or disposal of waste materials in an eco-friendly manner. Currently, most of the waste produced in our cities are mixed together (dry/wet, bio-degradable/non bio-degradable) and dumped in landfills. There, it is either burnt releasing harmful gases or left to rot or decompose which might take thousands of years (or never in the case of non-bio degradable products). Moreover, we are running out of land to store all our waste.

Normal scene on many roads in India

Normal scene on many roads in India

Improper ways of waste handling have resulted in turning our cities and roads into dump yards which is never a pretty sight. Moreover, all kind of diseases such as cancer, anemia, suppressed immune system are a result of release of poisonous gases and ground water contamination.

However, by using eco-friendly ways of Waste Management, we can reduce the waste going to landfills by as much as 80% (even more in some cases) and save a lot of environmental / health related issues by properly disposing off / recycling the waste materials. Organic waste (food, leaves, peels) can be converted into rich compost. Paper, plastic and glass can be recycled. E-Waste can also be disposed properly without releasing toxic chemicals to the air or soil.

The question all of us need to ask ourselves is, Do we want our children and future generation to live in this environment? Is this the legacy we are going to leave behind for the future generations? The answer is certainly a NO for me, and I am going to continuously share any findings / activities related to the same here.

More posts to follow soon!!