Our sense of attachment graduates to a lunatic level when money generated of voluntarily discarded waste becomes a bone of contention. Major Shiva Kiran, founder of GeoMap System, undertook the mission of converting his colony (in Hyderabad) into a zero waste space. And what happened?
Which is a zero waste colony?
The one from where nothing goes to the landfill. Garbage has two components — biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Biodegradable garbage can be turned into manure, compost. While non-biodegradable such as paper and plastic can be recycled. Meaning there isn’t waste to be dumped in the dump yard.
You are an ex-army man. What drew you to garbage?!
Say about more than ten years ago, I saw people from the colony dumping garbage on the street. I called the Municipal and got them to clear up the mess. But the problem persisted and I realized that I had to find a sustainable solution. This led me to delve deep into the business of garbage and speak to the Municipal and get them to help us create a mechanism to manage our waste in a manner that didn’t dirty the roads as well as didn’t leave the earth lacking her resources. The experiment began with Methodist Colony, that both of us share.
Was the experiment successful?
Not fully. We started off with a plan and the adequate resources, but people participation wasn’t there; not as much as it should have been.
Yes, I remember during the beginning, there were bins of different colors distributed to every house so as to segregate their waste and accordingly hand them over to the garbage collector. But the bins disappeared soon.
Exactly. Householders said — “even if we segregate the waste, the garbage collector mixes them up in the tricycle. So, what’s the point?!” Also, soon the money that we generated became an eye sore. On an average, we collected about 60,000 kgs of garbage every month from the colony, of which 30,000 kgs were dry waste that we sold at Re 1 per kg. So, every month we generated a revenue of Rs 30,000 which would be used for the welfare of the garbage pickers. But that revenue raised eyebrows and residents wondered if there were vested interests.
While we still are considered a model colony in Hyderabad with a waste management system in place and greenery serving as a canopy, we are no more a ‘zero’ waste colony.
Non cooperation from people was a challenge. You want to send out a message to them?
Handle the waste you create.
As an individual, you must participate in sustainable activities like this. It is your waste, you can’t not take responsibility of it. Earth is running out of her resources. One must be conscious in one’s lifestyle.
Some easy tips for individuals to follow as part of conscious lifestyle.
Be mindful of the food waste at home. Compost it in a humble flower pot or a drum. That way biodegradable waste will be handled. Coming to non-biodegradable waste like plastic and paper — make use of digital resources and reduce paper consumption. Switch to cloth bags instead of using plastic ones. Recycle these bags.