The world that we reside in today consists of 7.8 billion people and as time advances so do our ambitions and aspirations. Today, these things have become the root cause for most of the challenges that we face. It is no surprise that the human race is collectively responsible for generating 2.02 tons of waste every year with a per-day average of 0.74 kilograms, out of which at least 33% of the waste is not being managed in an environmentally safe manner. These figures raise a very significant question for humanity—How effectively are we managing our waste? in what way are we being accountable for the waste that we create? In the present case scenario, it is quite clear that we are only responsible for creating waste but not for managing it. India is a country which accounts for 17.7% of the world’s population. Such big numbers have always been a cause of great worry for us but what we often overlook is that these numbers can bring about change but, on the contrary, we are responsible for generating 277.1 million tonnes of waste which is 80% more than what South Asia produces as a whole.
The main point is that we cannot spend our lives like this. The rate at which we are going is going to bring about our destruction where we will be nothing but spectators. We often overlook the fact that if all of us were to manage our waste responsibly, we would be looking forward to a brighter, safer, and healthier future. Managing waste and holding ourselves accountable for the same is the only way in which we can curb generating waste. In the same way that charity starts at home, so does managing waste. Small changes can go a long way. We can start by making sure that we consume less plastic and even if we do, use it in such a way that it can be recycled further. Another effective way is waste segregation–the simplest way to do this is to make sure that you separate your edibles like vegetable peels from your non-edible waste like wires, batteries etc. This ensures that the former can be returned to the earth which will further replenish the soil and the latter can be used for effective reuse and recycling. Perhaps the most overlooked solution is to stop hoarding things. Believe me, that black shirt with an embroidered pattern is not going to help you in any way. The least that we can do is to make sure that we buy things because of necessity, not greed.
If we take a look at other South Asian countries it is obvious that we have gone wrong somewhere. Let’s understand this with a very simple example—today Japan is a leading example of waste management with one of the world’s most sophisticated waste management systems and laws, it is no wonder that whenever someone takes a trip to Japan, they can’t help but notice how the streets are always spotless. This isn’t something that “just happens”, Japan has stringent rules related to waste management and each and every citizen makes sure that their waste is handled responsibly by making sure that they segregate the waste before any collectors comes to take the trash away. This is exactly what we lack—sensitisation. We are all happy to preach sitting at our homes but none of us take any steps to make sure that we manage our waste responsibly. We care a lot about jobs, our assets and money but what we forget is that none our existence js dependant upon this earth and if we don’t preserve it, there won’t be anything left for us to cherish. We need to instil a sense of responsibility and accountability in ourselves, it is only then that we can manage our waste in an efficient manner.
Back in 2017, the Yamuna River was in headlines because the aquatic life had ceased to exist due to the high levels of waste in the Yamuna River. This showed us that if we do not manage our waste responsibly the impact can be far reaching and severe. Although, many steps have been taken by our government to insure that less waste is generated, in lieu of this the Jalandhar Government has launched a campaign called ‘My waste, My responsibility’ based on the 3 R’S- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This is just a step forward albeit in the right direction. There’s still a lot left for us to do as a community but such steps prove that we are realising our potential to manage waste and are holding ourselves accountable. The human will, is the most indomitable which is why we are the superior race. Let’s take a pledge to preserve this planet. Remember, it always starts with you.