Life & Style

Taking a stand on waste

HV Gayitri has not let her health issues or age get in the way of tackling the issue of garbage

Septuagenarian HV Gayitri has proved that age can never be a barrier to create an impact. A third-stage cancer survivor, Gayitri overcame not just health hurdles but also took on the challenge of fighting against garbage and waste. She initiated Waste Impact, a Bengaluru-based NGO, which was formed with the purpose of taking “innovation to grassroot level and improve the livelihoods of the waste picker community”.

The idea was to “reduce waste dumped around and make economically-challenged communities a part of the solution,” explains Gayitri and adds that Waste Impact collaborates with some of “the best players in the waste sector helping them to scale and impact. Then we come up with innovative, inclusive solutions”. To achieve these solutions, Gayitri has also come up with hackathons called REimagiNEWaste. “We come up with solutions that can be implemented everyday. Till date, we have had three hackathons.”

The first hackathon, she shares, had 40 domain experts along with 150 participants which included students, doctors, and teachers. “The participants visit the garbage dump or landfill and get first-hand experience of what and how the domain experts work, identify problems, and then come back to find solutions, which are then implemented in this area. Then we tie up with start-ups and look for ways to get back good revenue so that the efforts are not gone to waste. One such result is the Waste Samaritan, an app that has been adopted by a community in Yelahanka.”

Ask her how she got involved in waste management and she replies, “At the end of my 28th chemotherapy session, a friend suggested I work with Waste Ventures as they wanted someone to look after it. I was told I need not travel or work hard, but could stay home and work online.”

Taking a stand on waste

But, Gayitri was not content with just sitting at home. Instead, she started visiting people, places and waste pickers, whom she calls “domain experts as they are experts in their field”. “Once I got involved in this, I asked myself if I had chosen the wrong field. Being a cancer survivor, maybe I should work in that area. But then I told myself, waste is like cancer, multiplying all around and this problem has to be tackled.”

According to Gayitri, waste is a humongous problem that one individual or organisation cannot solve. It has to be a collective effort.

Episode four of REimagiNEWaste to be held on November 9 and 10 and 16 and 17 will focus on bio-medical waste. Visit wasteimpact.org/ reimaginewaste.in.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 2:06:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/septuagenarian-hv-gayitri-comes-up-with-innovative-methods-to-tackle-the-issue-of-garbage/article29908979.ece

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