WASTE IN MY COMMUNITY
As of 2011-2012, 21.92 percent of India’s population is under the poverty line  and surprisingly 28 percent of the total population belong to the middle class economy. If we find a way to transmit the surplus from the higher to lower economic strata, not only are we extending the survival of goods but also solving one of our major socioeconomic issue – poverty. The objective of this essay is to find ways to bridge different economic levels and to find what we can do as a community to reduce and recycle our commodities.
The waste management hierarchy goes as below
As long as people use products there will be waste generation. There is no possibility to eradicate waste but we can minimize it. Individual responsibilities should be taken to prevent the generation of waste like taking our own bag for shopping, reusing the cardboard boxes instead of investing in storage boxes, minimizing the use of paper, recycling plastic bottles. For recycling the first step is to segregate waste as recyclable and hazardous waste. This segregated waste can then be transported to industries to recycle and reuse the products. The hazardous wastes are usually electronic waste which cannot be composted or recycled. These wastes consists of valuable materials which can then be re-engineered to make other commodities by certain metallurgical process. One such example is that copper available in many electronic components are converted to jewelry and wire. As a community, we can do much better job to reduce waste reduction by recirculating the used commodities between different economic strata.
Source reduction, on the face of it, perhaps the most appealing of all the possible approaches to solid waste management
Waste vs Surplus:
Not many people know the difference between waste and excess. Waste is anything that cannot be used, as the product is no longer in good shape. Excess are the things that we do not need but still have it, these are the things that may seem as a waste to us but as a useful commodity to others. So the initial step is to segregate the excess and the waste. The waste that cannot be recovered like stale food, fruits and vegetable skin can be used in the generation of biogas.
The excess clothes , electronic gadgets , foot wear, bed sheets, dolls, furniture, vessels, quality plastic wears (even if its slightly damaged) can be recovered without dumping them to the landfill.
The excess commodities from the middle class and higher community can be collected and passed on to the people of lower economies. Easier that said, but how is it done? – The solution can also be simple with some volunteers. We are living in the digital era, with the pandemic normalizing the use of internet. The key idea is to create an app which allows people to take a picture of surplus goods and upload it with their location tagged, volunteers can receive these products and transport it to a common physical stall located in the region of lower economic level. These surplus goods can be anything – food, clothes, footwear, laptops, smartphones, study materials, books, stationaries, bags, etc.
To encourage volunteering activities, people can create their profiles on the app and they would be rated with stars based on the number of hours they spend on transporting the goods or managing the stall. This will create a healthy competition between individuals of a community. Competition between different communities can also be created by praising the most volunteered community.
You don’t need a cape to be some one’s hero you just need an app
Biogas and compost:
We need to understand why landfills are not the right way for waste disposal. By dumping the waste on land, we pollute the natural consistency of the soil, underground water and air. This degrades the quality of living not only for us but also for every other living organism. Hence instead of dumping the household waste, sewage and municipal waste can be put in a biogas plant setup in a community. This break downs the organic matter and produces methane and carbon di oxide which can be used for electricity production or to run an engine which can then be used for cooking, water heating, etc. The organic waste can also be dumped to form vermicomposting or natural manures for use in gardening.
The next question that arise in everyone’s mind is – Can all waste be recycled?
There are certain waste which were long known to be neither recyclable nor compostable or they may take long time to decompose. They are the textile bits of clothes, single use plastic bags, etc. the only possible way to get rid of these waste is to integrate these into other new products like the plastics can be used in bricks and the textile bits can be used as stuffing in sofa.
Waste is not waste when it’s in the right place
Waste management has become so important that it concerns our day-to-day living through climate change due to pollution. It’s time to take necessary measures to eradicate waste for own benefit. We can recycle, reuse, recirculate and replace the resources from one form to another. This pandemic has proved that a new normal is certainly possible. With due awareness and post predictions we can manage waste better. With little contribution and volunteering we can make our communities a better place to live in.
We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture
with any but sustainable souls