Turning garbage into gold almost sounds like an alchemist’s job and a theory that has absolutely no basis. Now, thanks to WasteLess, a social entrepreneur group, learning how to make money from your garbage is now child’s play.

The team at WasteLess has been working towards developing methods to teach people to recycle their garbage. Unlike most other endeavours, however, they have decided to not just talk about the environmental impact, but instead focus on how people can make money from their garbage.

When the garbage lands up at the dumping yard, usually it is very dirty. Searching through a garbage bin to find recyclable material is almost impossible. However, most scrap dealers are willing to pay for clean materials.

“According to a study conducted by a Chennai-based NGO, the average middle class family will be able to make around Rs. 115 through recycling, which is why we decided to develop the Pick it Up game to help educate the people,” Ribhu Vohra from WasteLess said.

What was surprising was that, across the country, metals fetched the most amount of money at the scrap dealers and there was a hierarchy in the way they paid money for waste. Everywhere in the country this hierarchy was followed, with metals paying out the most and non-recyclables not being worth anything.

The idea of the game is that both adults and children can play the game, and through it, they will understand what waste is the most valuable. The game is essentially a pack of cards, with a difference. The cards are divided into seven categories – Metal, Plastic, Paper, Glass, Organic, e-waste and non-recyclable waste – and the pack has instructions on how to play the game. There are five different variations, and each of them is aimed at educating people on the importance of recycling, Chandra Nusseleien from WasteLess said.

The games is currently available at the Auroville shop and on e-bay. More details on recycling and what the Pick it Up project is about is available at www.iwasteless.org. (EOM)

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