How To Incorporate The 3Rs—Reduce, Reduce, Reduce In Your Daily Life

Suddenly we are realising that waste is everywhere and we are not able to manage it. Villages round the city, like Mandur, started refusing our waste in 2012 and they are right to do so!

Why should we dump our city waste in their backyard?

Simply put, when we do not segregate our waste, it has a direct impact on our health—we pollute the soil that we need to grow food, we also pollute the water we drink and the air we breathe. We need to take responsibility for our waste and as consumers, we have to be aware of our impact.

Use, throw, forget?

We are generating new types of waste with the growing demand for processed food. Another worrying practice is this use-and-throw culture supposedly in the name of hygiene. Any celebration is an excuse to generate a mountain of trash—paper cups, plastic cups, thermocol plates, plastic spoons, water bottles…

With around 4,500 tons of waste produced in Bengaluru every day, the way forward is to look at how we can REDUCE the amount of waste we are generating.

                 Cloth pads are a safe and eco-friendly alternative to disposable ones (Source)  

                 Cloth pads are a safe and eco-friendly alternative to disposable ones (Source)

 

  • Reject waste consists mostly of sanitary waste at a household level. Washable nappies for babies, reusable sanitary pads and menstrual cups are great options available on the market to reduce our reject waste.

  • Zero Waste events are becoming more popular. With a little planning you can drastically reduce the burden on the municipality.

  • Recently we have seen some fantastic progress in terms of policy—the three-way colour-coded segregation system 2bin1bag has become mandatory since December 2015 in Karnataka. It is a simple solution to hand over waste in three categories—organic, recyclables and reject. Each ward is equipped with a Dry Waste Collection Centre to collect and segregate further valuable waste that will be converted into a new product. Composting of organic waste will soon be mandatory. It can easily be converted into compost with simple urban solutions.

Segregation increases the recycle value of dry waste and makes it safer for municipal workers to handle (Source: SWMRT)

Segregation increases the recycle value of dry waste and makes it safer for municipal workers to handle (Source: SWMRT)

People have been misusing plastic carry bags to mix and dump their waste, and are creating ‘black spots’. It is a menace for cows on the street that ingest it. It also blocks drains with catastrophic consequences during the monsoon. The recent ban on plastic disposables in March 2016 was a necessity to put a stop to these malpractices. Let us remember how we used to reuse before, nothing was wasted, was it? It is the only sustainable solution.

I believe the change will happen through our children, so as a member of the SWMRT I have co-authored a book available for purchase online called Trashonomics to educate middle school children on solid waste. It has recently been released by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board on World Environment Day.

We have to remember that we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

Here are some simple ways to reduce the waste you generate inside and outside your home.

At home

  • As much as possible, avoid storing food and water in plastic since it is not safe. Steel and glass are better storage options.
  • Compost your organic waste.
  • Reuse ice cream containers, metal boxes, beverage bottles to store provisions and water.
  • Avoid using aluminium foil, cling film, and paper napkins
  • Avoid processed food which generates more packaging waste and has less nutritional value.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Get reusable sanitary pads or menstrual cups. You will recover the cost in a few months.
  • Reusable nappies are a great option if you have a baby. They are now available for the elderly too.

When you go out

  • Make sure you always carry a bag (bags made of old tee shirts, sarees, jute bags, baskets.
  • Carry your own containers to your provision store for your staples.
  • Carry a steel water bottle
  • Carry a steel spoon, plate, and tumbler
  • Carry a small cloth napkin.

Claire Rao, made Bangalore her home in 2006, and has never looked back. A familiar face at most composting workshops, Claire is part of We care Malleswaram ‐ a neighbourhood group that religiously advocates segregation of waste at source, home composting and zero waste events. An acknowledged eco‐warrior, cycling in and around Malleswaram, Claire runs Nakshatra Trust an NGO that works with underpriviledged children and their families. Her motto is “living within our ecological limits and creating less impact on the environment in all our daily activities.”