The yearning for a small terrace garden, made me utilize the kitchen waste which gets produced at my home. I began this in December last year. Since I stay in a hostel and visit home quarterly, I requested my mother to dump it in a bin, which I kept in the small corner of my terrace. She was apprehensive at first, as she thought I might make our home smell like a rotten egg. But after some time I had a bucket full of home compost that I used to grow organic vegetables at home. This made me wonder, ‘Can everyone living in the city sphere adapt to it? Can this be done on a community scale, in a society? How can people be influenced to reduce the carbon footprint they generate at home scale? Can we be responsible for our own waste?’
Compared globally, India produces 277.1 million tonnes of waste, which is the largest for any other country. By 2050, this would increase to 543 million tonnes, according to the world bank report 2016. The huge repositories of human refuse are a daily sight. Waste generation is inevitable but waste management can be implemented at an individual level and be ultimately grown into a large community-based system. Out of those 3Rs which are promising for a sustainable earth, Reducibility and Reusability should be the priority but not Recyclability. The entailing waste as a result of increasing demands is being solved by transposing to the alternatives, meanwhile, consumers and producers need to focus on those 2Rs. The colossal amount is of one-time-use plastics as the contributor to waste generation. This gets dumped into the huge oceans, turns into microplastics, and in turn suffocates the aquatic life.
In India, in earlier times, plates made from Sal leaves were popular. In south India, the traditional use of banana leaves is still being followed. These alternatives to plastic or to styrofoam cups and plates might sound regressive but these are the need of the hour. In Manipur, bamboo bottles are being used. Another way of making fancy parties waste-free is by donating leftover food. This can benefact the Prime Minister’s initiative ‘Go vocal for local‘ Giving a way to earn income to many local communities, tribal people and, daily wage workers. Keeping a compost bin at home and using it for urban gardening is a valuable option. But composting at home needs proper education among the masses because waste segregation is a pertinent fact that is being neglected. Dry and wet waste needs to be segregated and considering the compostability, at home-scale. The adversarial outcome of this ‘My water, My responsibility’ can be the backyard burning of waste by people that can lead to air pollution or fire, which should be taken care of. To increase awareness among children, the best way is to assign them activities regularly to keep a log of what wastes their family generates on daily basis. Also, there is a requirement for more funding for the innovations that can minimize waste production, one such example is biodegradable plastics, now being commercialized. There is a huge need for funding and innovations for solid waste management. The local community can have community composting bins. Permaculture can be attained if NGOs can create a rapid waste collection for kitchen waste and take it to compost sites that can further be provided to farmers, which not only reduces the use of chemical fertilizers but also promotes organic farming. This can provide employment to garbage waste collectors and reduces the price which farmers have to pay to purchase expensive chemicals that turns up to be toxic after entering the food chain. Making organic food available to people at a cheaper price. This whole cycle can make the earth and nations economically and ecologically sustainable.
Just merely asking citizens about being responsible for their own waste is not enough, Government and Non-profit organizations need to join hands. When the government took the decisions to ban single-use plastics in India, the citizens started hoarding it, and again, these monstrous single-use plastics can be seen dominating the market. That shows the lacuna in regulatory measures taken by the government. The requirement of a global database of waste management systems needs to be there to track waste generation and disposal. This is attainable by making the implementation stricter, creating awareness better and, having a solid strategy that is followed regularly avoiding any leniency. One of the new things industries and institutions are trying to adapt to is, how to utilize the waste they generate, small water treatment plants, and utilizing the green waste to have a lush green garden in their own space. If everyone tries to plan construction plans accordingly, the issue of large waste generation can be managed. The concept of ‘green construction plans‘, will contribute majorly to urbanization. This is a holistic approach that needs contribution from consumers, producers, industries, and policymakers. Changing the customary modern-day lifestyle can be changed into a greener one. The motto of “My waste, my responsibility” is tangible if done properly and if 3RS will be prioritized early.