Our Garbage Can be a National Asset
Untapping the hidden potential of waste
India is a beautiful country with a lot of scenic and natural places which simply stop our breath and fix our gaze. However, we are more obsessed with countries such as Switzerland and Japan. They appeal to us in a way no other Indian destination does, be it in the movies or in real life. Why? Undoubtedly, the answer lies in the clean, organised roads and pavements and the pristine lakes and rivers.
So, there is a deep desire for living in a clean environment around us. Most of us have a habit of bathing at least once or twice everyday and cleaning our houses every day. Cleanliness is something inherent to us. However, that desire is not reflected when it comes to our surrounding in our day-to-day lives.
In a day, we generate as much as 16 crore kilograms of waste from 424 Municipal Corporations across our country. If we pass through the landfill sites or dump yards in any metropolitan cities, we see dump hills of waste and garbage which are 80 to 100 feet, casting a shadow on the ones living around.
Kodungaiyur dumpyard, which is the largest in Chennai
The incineration centres which have been set up burn all these wastes which release toxic fumes affecting livelihoods living alongside these dump yards which stretch up to 15 kilometres. Waste also seeps into the surrounding water bodies and, along with a toxic liquid called leachate, contaminates the groundwater and agricultural fields. In turn, these toxic chemicals enter our food chains.
Cleanliness is one aspect with which our perspective and collective responsibility needs a boost. What we call kachra or waste can be or rather should be looked upon as a useful resource and an asset.
From Garbage to a Green Economy
Wet waste, which consists of our kitchen waste of banana peels or vegetable skins, is biodegradable and should be made into compost. This manure, which is rich in nutrients, is the balanced diet for all plants. According to the scientist Dr S R Maley, 90 lakh tonnes of compost can be generated from our daily waste which is worth the value of Rs 27,000 crore. Using this compost, 45 lakh acres of barren land can be made fertile, and our country will get an additional 90 lakh tonnes of food grains. Kitchen waste can also be used to generate biogas which can be used for cooking.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Restore
Reducing what and how much we consume is the most difficult part of waste management. Recycling is simply a smarter way of managing our waste. The good news is that more than 70% of our waste, such as plastic cans and bottles, can be recycled. Recycling reduces the demand on natural resources and eliminates severe environmental, economic and public health problems.
Through Reduce, Reuse, Recycling and Restore, we can
- -Efficiently manage and conserve natural resources
- -Save energy and money by reducing and reusing your purchases
- -Improve environmental impact and reduce air and water pollutants
- -Strengthen the health and prosperity of your community
Knowing our Waste
If waste is not separated properly, then it gets mixed up in the landfills where our cumulative waste eventually goes. This contaminates the groundwater and also releases methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which ultimately leads to climate change and drought.
So, we should start in our kitchen by segregating the wet and dry wastes first by assigning different bins for them. Dry wastes such as plastic and paper can always be recycled and wet waste such as was discussed can be used as an asset which can solve a lot of problems.
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