Trillions of waste, billions of people, hundreds of countries, but one planet. The fate of our planet does not rely on how waste is produced, rather how waste is managed. The idea of effective waste management must shift from a mere ‘concept’, into a ‘movement’. Waste management is not a novel innovation. The proclivity of human beings to produce waste has coexisted with the beginning of mankind. People of the Indus Valley civilization would utilize remains of burnt wood for culinary purposes and incorporated an efficient recycling regimen for food related waste. Moreover, the ancient civilizations built intricate drainage systems across the city for effective sewage treatment and disposal.
Moreover, with urbanization and modernized lifestyles, came the breakthrough of the commercial usage of plastic. Why plastic? Plastic is inexpensive, abundant, durable, and convenient. Why not plastic? With the onset of global warming and climate change, human beings began to comprehend that the cons of plastic usage, outweighed the pros. Plastic isn’t degradable when disposed of, plastic waste continues to stay put on the planet, causing a disruption in the food web, destroying eco-systems, and releasing toxic and carcinogenic substances into the atmosphere. The issue of waste may not be eradicated from the course of the earth, however, it can certainly be controlled.
The term ‘Waste management’ is self-explanatory. The main ideation is the management of personal, industrial, agricultural, and institutionally produced waste with efficacy. This not only aids in the conservation of energy but contributes greatly towards adapting an ethical and morale-driven lifestyle. In India, domestic waste generated from households has immense potential to be recycled. An average Indian person produces 450 grams of waste each day. This includes organic waste, paper waste, and plastic waste. Improper management of household waste, particularly organic household waste, has significant repercussions. It causes a health risk by gathering rodents, mosquitoes, and flies, potentially causing a breeding ground for infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Holding accountability for the efficient disposal of one’s personal or domestic waste can contribute towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reinforce sustainability, inspire communities to adopt ethical living, and cut down on expenses. Waste is often accumulated and burnt in several households across India, this detrimental practice increases the risk of inhaling toxic chemicals and carcinogens(such as sulfur dioxide, POMs, and other volatile organic chemicals), promoting air pollution, risk of acid rain, and contributes to the reduction of soil health. Organic food waste can be composted and reused as organic fertilizers. Additionally, the incorporation of compost for food waste disposal reduces the possibility of soil erosion, increases soil fertility as it allows the soil to retain water efficiently. Alongside reducing overall landfill waste, compost is an economical investment to manage one’s organic waste.
Plastic waste from cosmetics items, groceries, and other personal purchases maybe reused by efficient cleaning and upcycling for various purposes such as storage and embellishments. Their non-biodegradable nature makes them the most challenging waste to be disposed. When disposed ,can hold water, and create a base for the breeding and growth of numerous insects that spread ailments. Disposed plastic waste is often accumulated in oceans and aquatic bodies, endangering marine life, and causing a disruption in the food web.
Disposal of paper waste in open pits with a cover is an option if the waste cannot be recycled and proper disposal regimens are inaccessible. Nonetheless, recycling paper is an effective and relatively less cumbersome method to manage paper waste.
Biohazardous waste, such as blood, lancets, batteries, used toilet paper, diapers, and menstrual products possess a considerable risk to human health. Hence, these wastes must be disposed through incineration to avoid public health risks. In regions where an incinerator is inaccessible, the waste must be disposed away from public dwellings.
In a country like India, where 68.8% of the population resides in rural areas, waste management is less efficient in comparison to the country’s urban counterpart. The launched Swachh Bharat Mission aims to improve the hygiene, and quality of life in rural areas by promoting a waste management curriculum. In rural areas, composting is a predominant form of waste disposal, as it does not require sophisticated instruments or infrastructure to perform. A study conducted by Chowde Gowda in 1995, stated that 77% of all waste generated in small Indian villages are re-used as organic fertilizers and fuels for domestic usage. Correspondingly, Sharholy et al. in 2007 stated that the efficiency of the collection of solid waste in India is 70%.
In conclusion, Effective disposal of waste must be a personal responsibility for the protection of our planet, by increasing the life of our landfills, conserving raw materials, and reinforcing that our planet is in desperate need of a revolution. A revolution of change and realization. Managing one’s own waste is an act of accountability and service, to the state, to the country, and the planet.
If the earth were a dollar, would you save it?
 Kumar, S., Smith, S. R., Fowler, G., Velis, C., Kumar, S. J., Arya, S., … & Cheeseman, C. (2017). Challenges and opportunities associated with waste management in India. Royal Society open science, 4(3), 160764.
 Gowda, M. C., Raghavan, G. S. V., Ranganna, B., & Barrington, S. (1995). Rural waste management in a south Indian village—a case study. Bioresource technology, 53(2), 157-164.
 Sharholy, M., Ahmad, K., Mahmood, G., & Trivedi, R. C. (2008). Municipal solid waste management in Indian cities–A review. Waste management, 28(2), 459-467.