It was our custom to put household waste under a coconut or banana in the yard. Thus they became fertilizer for kitchen cultivation. Back then, our kitchen waste was the kind of thing nature could contain. That was the size of it. Times have changed. More people in the city. No vacancies. Thodi crops are no longer a source of income. With the change in the nature of the materials we use at home, the problems caused by household waste have intensified.
Anything up to salt we buy wrapped in plastic wrap. Just hang them in a plastic kit again. Then the rice, curry, plastic and vegetable waste are tied in the same kit and dumped in public. No one thought that some rules and some methods should be adopted to suit the changing times.
Not only is the amount of waste increasing, but it is being dumped all over the country without being treated. The result? Many epidemics that were eradicated gradually returned to Kerala and posed a serious challenge to our public health system. Streams, ponds and canals became infected. Due to the special topography, the effluent from the dumped waste spreads rapidly. In 2003, the state was hit by an outbreak of dengue. 2006 was a year of epidemics. Chikungunya shook our entire health care system. Every monsoon is becoming a time of epidemics.
Evidence from our ancient culture shows that our ancestors were very careful about hygiene from ancient times. Our ancestors recognized that cleanliness is a culture. Hygiene is as important for health as it is for the individual and the community. Moreover, health is inextricably linked with hygiene.
We do not realize that recurring epidemics are a reward for our poor hygiene. Garbage dumps, stinking roadsides and dirty public places gnaw at us without distinction between village and town. Authorities are turning a blind eye to what to do with the waste. Conflicts are erupting in many parts of the state over waste. Things have gotten to the point where the court is intervening. Yet the problem remains problematic. Everyone knows that hygiene is necessary. Yet we live without sanitation.
Although all of the waste management methods mentioned here are practical, each has its own limitations and difficulties in implementation. It’s not as easy as dumping waste on the sidewalk or draining sewage into a ditch. Therefore, any method can be determined only by considering the amount of waste, the type of waste, the specificity of the soil, the location available, the time available, the cost of installation and the recurring cost.
An urban lifestyle that produces more and more waste is an inevitable creation of the contemporary capitalist system. Today market competition is not based on price, but through advertising and attractive packaging. More than half of the price is the cost of the sale. The United States consumes about 30 trillion tons of packaging materials each year. 20 lakh advertisements are sent every day. 25 lakh plastic bottles are used per hour. The lion’s share of inorganic urban waste is generated in this way.
In addition to this, the greed created by the capitalist consumer culture necessitates the terrible wastage of natural resources. As Gandhiji said, nature has all the resources we need. But our appetites are not in nature. Along with the increase in production, capitalism germinates among the consumers for those products. John Kenneth Galbright commented. Production of goods also creates desires that are thought to satisfy them. The main tool for creating such appetite is advertising. The illusion created by advertisements forces us to change everything from car and dress to household items as fashion changes. In fact, their use value has not diminished. That is why some call capitalism a waste system.