Doing our bit

This post has been selected for Spicy Saturdays πŸ™‚ Thank you Smita and BlogAdda! And Uma and Shilpa for letting me know πŸ™‚ I missed it completely!

Bangalore has in the news for the wrong reasons lately, rubbish collection being one of them.

To cut a long story short, some of the landfils that used to be used for dumping garbage have been closed and the city now has limited space to dump the garbage. Finally, pushed to a corner, the BBMP, declared that garbage needs to be segregated at source. That brought out groans from some and delight from some(like me).

In our appartment complex, segregation was already being practised. Or atleast, the association has been trying very hard to get the residents to segregate and dispose off their waste in a eco-friendly manner. Not everybody follows them, of course, but at least the processes were in place. So when the government made it mandatory, it felt great, because now, people would have to follow the rules.

But, sadly, despite all this, from the look of it, people seem to be complaining, upset about the ‘extra work’, and trying as far as possible to avoid it. To be honest, I fail to understand that. I’ve been segregating waste for a while now, and not because I was forced to do it, but because I saw the sense in doing it. Admittedly, things were easier in the UK, because the infrastructure provided for such things was better. Just before moving here, we had to throw away so many things. Usable stuff we gave away, others went to the local waste management site, where there were all sorts of bins provided. From non-recyclables, paper, cardboard, construction site waste, electronic waste to garden waste. It was wonderful. I had never thought I would say that of a waste management site, but yes, it was really wonderful. We made countless trips there, carrying loads of carefully segregated material, to be dumped at the relevant bins. And both husband and I felt good, having done what we could do. It was tiring, but fulfilling.

For everyday waste, every house is provided with it’s own non-recyclable waste bin, recyclable bin and garden waste bin, so the process, really is quite simple. I would segregate the waste, and when we step out, just pop them into the relevant bins – which would be picked up by the council, once a week, or monthly, depending on the kind of waste it is.

Despite the ease there, I still knew people who did not feel the need to segregate- because it was too much effort. Who thought that we were crazy to worry about things like landfills and environments.. I guess it is people like that here as well who really refuse to make that extra effort. We might not have fancy facilities, but the truth is that we really don’t need fancy facilities. We just need to plan where to put our waste. Some apparently claim that it is the BBMP’s responsibility to segregate the waste, after they’ve received it – because we pay some garbage tax. That kind of reasoning is beyond me. How can we expect the workers to go through the garbage and then segregate it? We find it so difficult to just put the garbage in the relevant bins, but we expect others to go through the garbage to separate it. Right. Makes so much sense, doesn’t it? And there are some who say,’But not everybody is doing it, so even if I do it, it won’t make a huge difference’. What do you even say to that? It’s funny to see how many reasons we can come up with when we don’t want to do something.

We have a water problem in the place that we live in. Water gets delivered by tankers and the quality is not the greatest. We can’t use the regular water filters, only the ones with reverse osmosis works with this kind of water. I was clueless about the whole working of the filter. After installing I realized that a lot of water gets wasted during the filtration process. I couldn’t stand the thought of letting so much water going to waste, so I catch that water and use it for watering plants, mopping, cleaning the balconies etc. It works, it is a bit of an effort, but I schedule my water filtration in such a way that I am around to catch the water in buckets. I was talking the other day with a lady who was involved with water conservation in the apartment’s association, and she was mentioning that most people just let the water go waste. We don’t have water meters in each apartment, so it’s easy to ignore the water getting wasted – after all everybody’s paying for it – not just me! As another lady said, people refuse to do anything unless everybody is forced to do it.

The concept of ‘Doing our bit’ seems to be non-existent. ‘I will do it only if my neighbour is doing it too’, seems to be the concept in operation.

Is it any surprise that our cities are in the state that they are in? When we refuse to do our bit, but expect that everything else needs to be in perfect order, clearly nothing ever will be. Because it has to start somewhere, doesn’t it? And if not in our own homes, where?

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38 thoughts on “Doing our bit

  1. I completely agree with you that the concept of “doing our bit” is lost. We criticize everyone, the Government, our neighbors, people and whom not for the various issues that we face or for the present condition of the nation but when it comes to doing our bit we don’t. If we do our bit, then a whole lot of problem that the nation is facing be it socially, politically or economically, every issue will be solved. Thanks for a great read.

    • Welcome here, Shruti. Yes, you are absolutely right – ‘If we do our bit, then a whole lot of problem that the nation is facing be it socially, politically or economically, every issue will be solved’ – Absolutely!

  2. I read this article in the newpaper saturday i think, and was talking to a friend about the same issue. I do wonder how people over their will follow this simple rule .. here as you know urself we have the black bags, the green and the white and the boxes green for bottles and blue for cardboard .. and its just natural now to put a bottle in the box instead of the bin..

    True. It is so easy, isn’t it? Once you start doing it. And as I said, I know people there, who wouldn’t 😦

    you are right, the govt has to ake it mandatory as I think the govt is paying to the farmers who will accept the rubbish as part of manure after treatment..

    Yes, that makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Also they want apartment complexes to have their own composting unit – which makes a lot of sense too. Steps which should have been taken long back, but better late than never, isn’t it?

    lets see if people realise sooner than later what needs doing
    We can only hope..

  3. can’t agree more.. I am glad I realized the “doing our bit” few years ago.. “Be the change you want see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi got glued to my head forever.. I recycle though its not mandated here and that sense of feeling good is boundless.. I have shared the same with Adi and whenever there is a chance we talk about keeping our environment green and clean.. It is our responsibility.. I just shared a pic in FB yday that would be apt for this post.. though the text is in Tamil the picture itself says it all.. I will try my best to do my bit..

  4. Exactly Smithu. It has to begin with us, but sadly most people are happy leaving things which call for some efforts to others 😦 Am so glad u are doing ur bit πŸ™‚

  5. I agree it seemed overwhelming to when they started it! But jus 3 days into it, it feels doable! I dono why is tht we need osmebody breathing down our neck for us to get cracking!

    Sad, isn’t it?

    As for water consumption – well its the same story at our place too. Things hv gone so bad tht they talking of installing water meters – n ha the indignity with which some peop reacted hv to be seen to be believed!

    I can totally imagine that!

  6. How do you segregate your waste here? I’m looking for some best practices. Could you share? And how do you avoid using plastic bags for waste? I just can’t seem to get over this no matter how much I try.

  7. Very relevant post and I couldn’t agree more. We must be the change we want to see. I’ve seen way too many people wasting the RO filtration water–to me it seems nothing short of criminal.

    I agree. And yet so many people do it so nonchalantly!

    Hey how do you dispose of expired medicines etc? I asked the neighbourhood pharmacist– he shrugged and said put it in the bin!!! I feel very uneasy about it as they could be toxic.

    I haven’t had to dispose any yet. BBMP is supposed to pick up medical on a quarterly basis, but I have no idea how it’s done. Will let you know if I find some more info on it.

  8. so very typical! I’ve heard that story since I was a kid: why should we do extra and not everyone is doing it so why should I?!! It’s just so very frustrating that people think that everything should be taken care of by some one else!! And, people in the US volunteer to pick trash up for places…trash they had NOT thrown themselves!!

  9. I feel segregation of rubbish is a good practice. I used to do that in UK but not any more. But I also feel that Western countries dump their garbage in third world countries. Is that right? What is the point of all that segregation when you are anyway going to everything in someone else’s backyard. I feel that is so hypocritical.

    Segregating waste and all is fine but they should stop dumping their waste in other countries. Read this article http://library.thinkquest.org/26026/Economics/pollution_problems_in_the_thir.html

  10. I so agree. In fact I also switch off fans and lights etc. when not in use. It’s simple conservation of energy. I know people who leave them on and say, leave it, we are anyway paying for it so why bother? 😦 It’s sad.

    Wish awareness campaigns would be there to knock some sense into people. I guess Bangalore is more eco-friendly than many other cities.

    It’s ridiculous to expect someone else to sift through our garbage and sort it out! 😯 What kind of nonsensical logic is that?

    Ooops, water is always a problem in Bangalore eh? I was just musing what a departure from the 24 hour clean water and non-stop electricity you are so used to receiving all this while……

  11. Such a beautiful post, Smitha! And every word is so true! I have been following news about the BBMP’s garbage segregation drive earnestly, and have been thinking of doing a similar post, too. Your post motivates me now.

    We are one of those families who is ultra happy with the segregation drive. It just feels wonderful, and hardly takes a few extra seconds to do it. In time, I foresee that the drive will cause people to stop using plastic bags at all, so that they don’t have to wash them later before throwing them in the garbage (the ones that we get from hotels and all, I mean). We are waiting for the day when the segregation goes one step deeper – electronic waste, medical waste, garden waste, etc. I love to see my wet waste turning into compost slowly if I don’t throw it out for a couple of days. I am thinking of buying a proper compost pot, so that I can use it for my plants.

    Whatever might be the reasons behind the BBMP’s drive, we are delighted with the move. At least, it is a step in the right direction, towards a cleaner and greener India. And, yes, I am so thrilled that everyone in our apartment is following it religiously and is equally thrilled with the drive.

  12. Your post reminds me of a famous story – not sure if you have heard it. The king asks everyone to bring a pot of milk to pour into the big well that he has made. He wants to make a one-of-its-kind milk well in his county. On the day the well is inaugurated, it is full of water. Everyone has poured into it a container of water, thinking that his one container of water will not make a difference if everyone else is bringing pots of milk!

  13. True Smitha… People doesn’t bother doing their bit but yet complaining whats wrong with system and officials. If they can’t even do a simple segregation of waste in their home what else they can do for the society.

    In my office there are different bins for paper and paper in food courts and I can tell you people are not even bothered about it. They put the wastes in whichever bin they feel. Once me and my friend went to food court. When she put a paper in plastic collecting bin I asked her why didn’t you put it in paper collecting bin and she asked me back is it mandatory? I said it is. Then she said she will do in future.

    More than the lack of effort we live in denial. We don’t want to get to know the simple things around and it cost us a lot till now.

  14. Absolutely agree, Smits! The will to do our own bit has to start from our own homes. Your post reminds me of the post you did on civic sense in the UK :). I hope we get to see some change in our own mindsets for the better soon πŸ™‚

  15. First, Congrats on the Spicy Saturday Pick !!!

    I seriously wish that such a waste separation system is available here in Chennai…I try to do it in whatever way I can. I dont throw the plastics, glass, paper into the regular bin…that’ll be mostly kitchen waste.

    I happened to see the guy collecting garbage put his hand into every garbage cover to search for re-usables. Why can’t people give the re-usable stuff to him separately, he can take it to the re-cycle place.

    There is a school initiative where the children go to everyone’s home to collect plastics every week. Its better to instill such qualities in children.

    Unless people are pushed to the extent of no water, they never think of saving the precious water…its a sad state and people should realize how precious water is.

  16. this idea was introduced in my township few years ago. the institute itself provided all the houses with two bins, they just wanted people to put in recyclable and non-recyclable . there was a hesitation at th e beginning, but people were motivated by seeing many videos of use of segregation, how cows die after eating plastic etc etc. it worked for an year or two.. but now i dont see this in practice. my mom says that even if she keeps two bins outside, the people who take it, mix it or ask my mom to keep only one bin outside.. the simple reason they give is.. the committee has changed, the new president is now bothered..
    but yes it is a nice initiative and people should think green.. i still see people crib about paying extra at malls for plastic covers.. when the idea is for stopping people from using plastic..

  17. Agree completely!! And hats off to your effort of conserving the water from the filter and using it for gardening, washing balconies etc! If each one us do our bit, it would be so much easier and better for us, but then doing that extra bit is not us… we are like that only, sadly!
    Congratulations for the spicy pick! πŸ™‚

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  19. Well said, Smita. And well done, Bangalore. Keep educating people about the dangers of huge garbage dumps in our midst (rats, roaches and methane released into the air to trap more heat) and I think they’ll be more willing to segregate their rubbish, perhaps even compost some of it.

  20. Like you said the mentality of if others’ do it I’ll do it or if it is really forced people will reluctantly do it…add another one to this: if something bad/ironic happens to them or family is when they realize the importance of cleanliness, conservation etc.

    True – that happens too. I just wish people would understand why its so important. Even now, I see people in my apartment complex, putting out non-segregated rubbish – not everybody, but some consistently refuse to segregate – why? It’s beyond me…

    My masi and uncle have formed an association with so much efforts to instill this practice of waste segregation in their society…initially they faced a lot of problems in getting their point across but after years of not-giving-up efforts the entire society is operating on the same concept and now my masi and uncle are approaching other complexes to join hands…..their aim is to make Pune city clean and green!

    That is so wonderful! That is so noble – Hats off to your masi and uncle! People like them need to be feted for their dedication.

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