The most dangerous monster plaguing our society and our planet is Waste. All of us are feeding the monster to grow bigger and stronger. The monster has started to clog drains leading to floods, has started polluting our water streams, killing animals and plants as well as eating into the area of land that we have to live on!
So, how do we ensure that the monster doesn’t grow big enough to kill us all? How do we, as individuals, ensure that we win the battle against the monster by converting our waste into beautiful and functional recycled products like these?
The first and most crucial step to recycling and managing your waste effectively is Waste Segregation. That’s right. It’s no rocket science – it’s the easiest and most effective way to go about solving our fierce war against the waste monster.
By simply throwing your trash in the right bin can, you can make all the difference.
You see, our trash essentially comprises of three categories of waste – Wet Waste, Dry Waste and Domestic Hazardous waste.
Wet waste is generally the stuff out of your kitchen – food waste, vegetable & fruit peels, leftover dal from the previous night – you get the point. Such waste is a brilliant source of organic compost and biogas generation.
Dry waste, on the other hand, is stuff we generally use like – plastics, glass, paper, cartons, metal, thermocol, etc. There are about 20 categories of dry waste, most of which can be recycled or upcycled.
Domestic hazardous waste comprises oils, paints, condoms, sanitary napkins, expired medicines and other such waste streams. Such waste is usually incinerated at controlled temperatures to minimize the damage it causes to the environment.
The crux of killing the waste monster is to strictly segregate your waste into these categories. Source segregation will allow you to recycle all your dry waste, and compost the wet waste. You would, in this case, reduce the waste you send to a landfill by about 90%.
So the upside of source segregation is clearly fantastic. But what about the downside of not segregating at source?
Mixed or unsegregated waste has no scope of being recycled or composted, and hence ends up in landfills. Once it’s mixed, it can’t be fixed.
Mixed waste is essentially an invincible, stinky monster that rots in landfills around our cities, contaminates our water table and the air we breathe. It emits excessive greenhouse gases when it is burnt or as it decomposes, and pollutes our breathtaking oceans and rivers. It chokes animals that mistake it for food, and makes the lives of people from the economically backward classes miserable by spreading diseases.
Our bravest warriors against the mixed waste monster are the waste pickers. They battle against hazardous conditions to make a meagre income and to sustain themselves. They are unfortunately some of the most undervalued people of our society, despite being among the few that risk their lives on a daily basis to keep our cities clean. Responsible waste management can provide them with a safe and dignified livelihood opportunity, creating thousands of jobs.
So let’s put an end to the wretched monster of mixed waste. Let’s collectively take the first step of segregating our waste for it is the ultimate need of the hour. No matter which strata of the society we’re from, let’s vow to segregate our waste at source.
Let’s try and emulate Mother Nature, for she knows no waste.
The next step would be to start composting your food waste at home. For those attempting home composting for the first timers, our next post is specifically for you!