In the typical Indian style of laughing off serious concerns Bangaloreans nonchalantly joke that Garden City has become Garbage City. We’ve become so used to the garbage piles at street corners that we don’t even notice them anymore. The stench is all too familiar and the street dogs have made the piles and the mounds their play-area. I use a garbage pile at the end of my street as a landmark to someone coming home. It’s that serious a crisis!
The ban on plastic bags has become a headache for the sabjiwala down my street. The housewives forget to carry a cloth or jute bag and then pester him for a plastic bag. He shadily pulls one out from below his mat for the ‘regular customers’ and adds in an inaudible whisper “amma next time please bring a bag, they will close down my shop if they know”.
The drive to segregate waste was a big failure in our city and we are to be blamed for that. “Who has time for that?” you quip. You say that it’s much easier to stuff all the garbage in one big black plastic bag and use your throw-ball and football skills to get rid of it from the house. It’s alright if it falls onto the footpath or into the neighbour’s terrace. It’s not your problem anymore.
We have a rich tradition of recycling. Our mothers carefully washed milk packets, collected them and sold them to the ‘raddiwalla’ along with the newspapers every six months. Our grandmothers reused glass jam and sauce bottles to share their pickles with their friends and relatives. Cradles and toys were passed on from the older cousins to the younger ones. Old clothes were given to the maid or to the street urchin. Even the shampoo and detergent bottles were washed and collected and then sold off. Extra food was always shared with the neighbourhood dog.
Most of us nowadays don’t do these things. We tell our mothers to stop being so thrifty and we roll our eyes when our grandmothers carefully wash and dry the glass bottles. For us, the dustbin is the place for leftover food, plastic bottles, milk packets and even used clothes. Though we have mastered the three R’s – reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic we have failed at learning the more important three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle.
Composting organic waste is one of the most significant steps you can take to tackle the garbage crisis instead of complaining. It automatically leads to reduce-reuse-recycle. I have been successfully composting the organic waste generated in my house for the past 3 years with the help of Daily Dump. Do check out their website to know more Daily Dump. Read my article on my composting experience and the joy of harvesting ‘black gold’.