Waste management and segregation are the buzzwords of the month. Into the second week of making garbage segregation compulsory in all households, we need to stop complaining and start cooperating, writes Catherine Rhea Roy

Garbage is the orphan child, nobody wants. The people who create it want nothing to do with it and put as much distance from it as possible by dumping it in landfills outside the city, contaminating the environment and lives in surrounding areas.

But what was worse is that when we ran out of space and it was time to roll up our sleeves and clean up the mess, we made excuses.

It has been a week since the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike made segregation of waste at source compulsory and oh the woes! The nature of excuses and complaints has been varied – while one Bangalorean questions, “How much waste can a single, bachelor generate? Definitely not enough to segregate.”

A news article complained that the segregated waste gets mixed by the pourakarmikas hence defeating the purpose of enforcement of garbage segregation and a housewife fretted over how confusing it was.

Wilma Rodrigues, the founder member of Saahas, an organization that has for over a decade committed to finding solutions to solid waste management, breaks it down, “It is as simple as wet and dry, on a day-to-day basis a household generates wet waste which is mainly your food waste and dry waste which is mostly paper, plastic, glass and metal waste. Then there is also sanitary waste like used diapers which has to be wrapped in newspaper,” she says quickly rounding up the different categories of waste that the average household is responsible for.

Why segregate? Because only segregated waste can be a resource and to fulfil the cycle of reduce, reuse, recover, recycle and then reject.

Take the initiative

After all these years of negligence undoing the damage is a lot of work, and people need to take the initiative and use the available infrastructure solutions organisations like Daily Dump and Saahas provide, “People need to take the onus and support the BBMP,” says Wilma.

Theatre personality, Vivek Madan says, “It was a bit of the pain in the beginning but then you learn to check yourself till it becomes a habit. Cribbing and blaming the BBMP is not a solution, in fact I think we need to give them points for their effort because with this will come other changes we want to see.”

While the authorities continue through a process of trial and slight error to work out a sustainable system for Bangalore’s waste management – households in the meantime are expected to be vigilant, engage with the pourakarmikas and continue to support the BBMP irrespective of the gaps in the system.

Vani Murthy is a member of Yes In My Backyard, which is a group of highly motivated individuals who have decided to take on the responsibility to organize waste collection, segregation, and disposal, and she has been segregating her waste and home-composting for the past four years, she says, “I have waited four years for a system to be created, we need patience. Our system is not used to understanding waste; we have to learn and understand waste and give it time to percolate to the grassroots, and while we make allowances for mistakes and delays, it is our constitutional duty to continue co-operating with the system.”

Musician, Montry Manuel shares his disappointment and urges Bangaloreans to stop being angry with the authorities, “Become a part of the movement and take initiative. If the BBMP is not doing it right, take the help of smaller organisations who work with waste management and do it yourself. Get your hands dirty if you want a cleaner city.” If you want to make a difference, your home is the first place to start – every citizen should segregate, participate in BBMP drives and be involved. Till date we have never managed our waste, only dumped it and we don’t want to create more Mavallipuras and Mandurs.

Now it is time to co-operate, because as Dr.Seuss succinctly puts it in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

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