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Tackling the problem of “Waste Generation”

I am from Pune, ex-pensioners hub to now booming IT city.

Some months ago there was a big issue of waste management in the city, where the villagers near Uruli Devachi protested against the huge garbage depot in their backyard, where most of Pune’s garbage is dumped (a glimpse shown in the cover picture of this blog). A little child even died in the village owning to untreated garbage in the depot. The villagers revolted and damaged some government dump trucks, post which cities garbage had remained uncleared for weeks together. Now, the city dwellers were having to smell the stench and bear the pollution caused by their own garbage. Post which, everyone started to find a solution to this problem!
This situation is current to every city and town in India!

How many of us can relate ourselves to the situation of the villagers at Uruli Devachi?

I certainly can! I wouldn’t like someone to come and throw their garbage in my backyard, would you?
These people and their ancestors had been living in their village for decades and centuries in a clean environment. With us throwing garbage from our homes in their backyard, they are now annoyed by the health concerns, air pollution, water pollution and constant stench from the rotting garbage.

How can we start contributing to resolve the issue of waste generation? By us, ourselves reducing the garbage

A few quick reasons, I could come up with for this unchecked creation of waste:
Buying and using more than what we need: For instance, we cook more food than what is needed, which has to be thrown away, we buy items which we use for a short period of time and then throw away, so on and so forth!
Using disposable items: For the sake of convenience, we have started using disposable plastic and thermocol/styrofoam plates and glasses. We have started using plastic bags, even after being banned from use several times. What if we start going back to how we dealt with this before these items came into existence?
Using more packaging than needed: Not blaming entirely on manufacturers on how much packaging material they use to pack products, we ourselves use more packaging than required

The list of how waste is generated can go on and on!!!!
Can we reduce our own waste?

The answer is ‘Yes!
By starting with our homes, offices, restaurants, streets, picnic areas etc, we can make a huge difference and contribute to solve the problem of waste generation.

Here are some ways I can think of to reduce the garbage generated from my house:
1) Carrying my own reusable bag to go shopping. Thus reducing the plastic bags we bring home.
2) Cooking food, only how much is needed. Take a roll call of who is present and who is not for lunches and dinners and ensuring appropriate amount is cooked.
3) For take home items from restaurants, carry your own boxes and bags, where the restaurant can pack food for you. How many of us remember doing this just about 7-8 years back?
4) Buying durable items, which last longer and you don’t have to throw them away. Even if they might be a bit expensive, they will last longer and save your money in the long run.
5) Avoiding use of disposables. Be it a party or get together at home, stop using plastic or thermocol/styrofoam plates and glasses. These non-biodegradable and non-recyclable items form one of the the largest categories of waste. We can instead rent steel plates or reusable plates. Agreed that cleanup is cumbersome, but its worth paying a few extra rupees to our maid to wash these.
6) Composting at home. There are easy to follow composting solutions, which you can follow at home and create your own organic manure for your apartment garden.
There could be many more solutions to reducing waste, so first I suggest, lets start tracking our waste… What do we throw the most, and then take steps in reducing it.

Lets make our city clean, reduce the stress on our municipal resources so that our tax payers money is utilized for something more productive than cleaning our left-overs, and over and above everything, lets make our neighboring communities life less miserable by reducing our waste flowing out to their backyards.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts about the post!

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Aarohana’s Inception – Uttarakhand 2013

On 15th June 2013, while most people were watching the live streaming of disaster victims getting rescued from the Kedarnath shrine and other affected regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, a group of friends (of course, including me) were stuck in Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) for 5 days.
Kinnaur was the worst affected districts in HP, with the only roads connecting Kinnaur to the rest of the country closed due to landslides. The river Sutlej was swelling and had damaged electric and water lines, cutting off power and water supplies. It was cold and was still raining. It rained for straight 3 days and nights, no relief! Finally on the morning of 18th June, we saw some sunshine, but along with it, we could see the destruction these rains and landslides had caused. Houses were broken, roads were beyond repair, farmlands and orchards were destroyed!
Later, the next day, we even got electricity and television back and started seeing the widespread destruction in other part of Himalayas. Media and state governments all over the country were pressurizing the local governments to rescue all tourists. Unfortunately, many had died and a few had gone missing, but I believed that all the surviving tourists, including myself would be rescued very soon. We would get back to our intact homes in different parts of the country, but what about the locals? They had lost almost everything they had: their farmlands, their houses, cattle and loved ones!
Finally after 5 days, we got rescued by one of the helicopters to Shimla. Towards the end of this unforgettable journey I decided that very soon, I would come back and work for those affected by this disaster. So deep was the impact on my heart that 2 months later, I was back in the Himalayas! And this time not as a tourist, but as a volunteer to work for those affected!
Rest of the story is the creation of Aarohana EcoSocial Developments explained in further detail at www.aarohana.org. A hell of an experience, starting with nature’s destruction to people’s rehabilitation!