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More ways to less waste

Kabadiwalla Connect is holding a series of discussions to get communities involved with the waste management process. A look at one such session

Among many other issues, the excessive rains brought up issues associated with garbage disposal, as floating piles of unmanageable waste littered our streets. Kabadiwalla Connect, a social enterprise start-up by a concerned group of youngsters in Chennai, has been working on these issues for a long time.

Since his early initiatives to clean up beaches, founder Siddharth Hande has come a long way with his core team at Kabadiwalla Connect and other collaborators. By December 2015, they had 650 kabadiwallas on their listing, which provides information services to residents all over Chennai for getting waste collected at their doorstep. Making upcycled products and continued research form their other activities.

At Spaces, Besant Nagar, Kabadiwalla Connect is holding a series of discussions to get communities involved with the waste management process, starting right from their homes. The first event began with Shanthi Ulhas, a resident of Mahalingapuram, addressing a group about her efforts to manage waste after two dumpsters stationed on their street made it impossible to open their windows. She along with a group of friends went door-to-door across 21 streets, convincing households that throwing out less would make garbage disposal manageable for the Corporation. Five years since, Ulhas practices simple segregation, separating plastics, paper, bottles and organic waste. “The kitchen waste goes into a plastic composter that is easy to maintain. After we collect about four inches of waste, we sprinkle microbes. There are no mosquitoes and no stench,” says Ulhas. From the compost generated, the greatest benefits are her thriving kitchen garden with watermelon and cauliflower plants. In the ensuing discussion, some main concerns that participants had were— how to compost biodegradable waste, what happens to plastic and other non-biodegradable waste once it leaves our homes, and how garbage collectors often have no idea why we are segregating, and how can this be managed at the macro level?

Hande mentioned that in India, we actually recycle 40 per cent of our plastic, while paper has far less value and gets dumped. “As of now, of the 70 million tons of waste produced each year, 90 per cent goes to the landfill. Over 219 kgs of recyclable waste is generated on an average (per household) every year. If we managed waste better at home, we would be sending less to the landfill,” he said.

Retired IIT Professor Swaminathan gave his insights on how within Chennai’s 13 zones, waste collection is primarily managed by the Corporation apart from RAMKY that is on contract for three zones. By throwing out waste en masse, the waste that can be recycled or composted gets mixed up and goes straight to the dump. Even at this stage, there are families who live around the main garbage dumps, who recover waste items that have value. At the household level, organic waste can be composted or generated as bio-gas as there are a large number of apartments. Only hazardous waste, like batteries, razor blades, diapers, and sanitary pads must be sent to the dumpsters.

Interested residents can log on to http://www.kabadiwallaconnect.in/ or call Farhaad Khazvini on 9884467608.

The wrier is a city-based writer and visualiser. She studied furniture design at NID and is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 6:31:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/More-ways-to-less-waste/article14013985.ece

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