We citizens tend to think that our responsibility with regard to the waste we generate is confined, at most, to putting it in the bin. The Indian Union regulation and the system should implement in each Member State hinge on the responsible behavior by citizens, who are the first link in the chain of the recycling process. It’s not enough that all waste goes into the bin; we also have to separate it correctly in our homes and use other infrastructure, such as recycling centers.
Despite a rainy Easter holiday, we had enough good weather for me to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: mountain trekking. One day, we had to walk along a country road because the trails were impassable. Although the mountainous landscape was spectacular, I couldn’t help noticing all the garbage that had accumulated in the roadside ditches, both the amount and varying degrees of decomposition. The bulk were drink cans and bottles, but there were also countless cigarette packs, plastic shopping bags, paper, and a whole range of objects so far from the city it would baffle CSI (an umbrella, a shopping cart, a sink, etc.). I imagine the range of garbage would be much greater along a highway.
While I was walking, I remembered a newspaper article someone wrote some time ago called “What do we do with garbage?” I was staring at one of the answers to that question: some people just dump it anywhere. I found the article’s message was still valid so I decided to adapt it to the situation today and share it with you.
In reality, EVERYTHING we have and use during our lifetime—whether at home, at work, or on vacation—ends up in the bin if we behave responsibly. There are things that become garbage surprisingly fast (an ice cream wrapper, gift wrap, the plastic around a magazine); some take slightly longer (a newspaper, which can last a day; a milk carton, a few weeks; this season’s clothing, a few months; a computer, a few years); and we may even believe that some things, like our car or home, will never be waste. However, nothing escapes this inexorable law: the car will last for years, but it will end up as scrap metal, and homes may be refurbished, but in the end they will be torn down, generating more waste.
Many people don’t believe this is true, simply because they cannot see the big picture. For example, you can give someone else your old computer, donate your old clothes to an NGO, or sell your old car so you can buy a new one. And although time will pass and these items may have several owners, they will inevitably become garbage, even though we may not see it because it happens at another time in another place. Since so much time passes from when we acquire these products until they become waste, some people maintain that this isn’t a serious problem. They cannot understand that, even though they don’t throw out their computer this year, thousands of people will. Every year thousands of people buy a new mattress and throw their old one out. The same happens with furniture, and suitcases. Every day thousands of pens, shoes and toys end up in the garbage. As you’ll have noticed, I’m assuming that we’re all exemplary citizens and that we always throw our garbage in the bin, but a walk in the city or the countryside reveals that’s not always the case.
As time advances, so does human aspirations and so does the challenges such aspirations pose to save the planet. The recent advancements in human aspirations have been so complicated that this has become the basic reason for all of the problems that our planet faces today. It is said that, the resources that an average modern day person consumes today is equivalent to what ten thousand people consumed over 1000 years back. On top of it, our population has grown twenty times over thousand years, from around .3 billion to around 7.4 billion as of today. It is left to those who are good at Maths to calculate how much we are depleting our valuable resources today when compared to a thousand years back and how much damage we cause in terms of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in this minuscule fraction of a second.
The mission has understood that waste management cannot be just projects and investment. The real place that needs investment is people’s minds. But this investment is about simplicity, self- sustainability and everyone becoming a change agent who will bring change in their own micro environment that will send ripples all around him. It is about becoming the change we wish to see in the world. It is this investment that has now ignited an enviro – Cultural Revolution towards a healthy planet and helped us create some of the innovations