The Idea of Saahas: Waste Belongs Back In Our Homes, Not On Our Streets

This is the first post of the Saahas blog. It explains the motivations and circumstances surrounding the inception of Saahas, and what it now stands for.

 

Inception

Mumbai circa 1985. As a young adult and a working professional in the city, waste was not an area of interest at this point in my life.

Still, I hated the smell of rotting street garbage that lingered throughout the day and across the city, especially on wet monsoon days.

 

New Mindsets

Around this time, a huge citizen movement swept across the city and went viral in a matter of days. The campaign urged the public to bag their waste. Plastic was just starting to become popular, so the campaign encouraged putting waste into plastic bags so that we would not have to be faced with the sight of our waste.

Now, I wonder at my former self: the ignorant working professional, one among millions of Mumbaikars who gave their thumbs up to this campaign and actually believed in the plastic-bag-solution.

Today, more than 25 years later, the thought of waste occupies my mind for most of the day. It is the center of my work. Saahas, the organization I lead, believes and demonstrates processes by which organic waste gets converted to compost; this compost returns to and actually enriches the soil, or it gets recycled into other useful products.

 

Saahas Stands For Reduce

We advocate Reduce as the first principle in waste management. Carry your own shopping bag, refuse a paper cup, and carry a handkerchief which can be washed and reused; these are far friendlier to the nose and to the environment than a paper tissue that is simply disposed.

Saahas conveys to the world that now, more than ever, we need to put a brake on convenience and opt instead for a lifestyle that is sensitive to the footprint we leave on our earth.

Unfortunately. whatever we do, there is some waste which will come out of our offices, our schools and our homes. This is where Saahas steps in to support segregation of waste at source and its conversion to products, ranging from compost to paper and even roofing sheets made from recycled Tetra Pak cartons.

 

Conclusion: It has been 13 years since the then intangible idea of Saahas took form. While we still battle with mindsets that prefer the waste-in-a-plastic-bag solution, we have had  success with our system, the one which manages waste at source. Today, our Saahas programs  across the city convert 7 tons of waste everyday into a range of resources. Bangalore generates almost 4,000 tons per day.  It’s good to know that we have lots of work ahead of us.

What are your thoughts on the waste in Bangalore? How do you feel about it? What can you stand for in the face of our city’s biggest problems? Please share in the comments below!

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