Doing our bit

This post has been selected for Spicy Saturdays 🙂 Thank you Smita and BlogAdda! And Uma and Shilpa for letting me know 🙂 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?

Why every little helps..

Deeps’ post and this post on Women’s Web prompts me to write on this subject again.

A lot of times when I start discussing the topic of the condition of girls in India, I get that ‘There she goes again on her feminist track’. The thing is,whatever I say, I feel that it is not enough. It will never be enough – until the date that people stop this yearning for a boy. It will not be enough until people stop treating girls as the unwanted sex. Until a girl child is welcomed just as much as a boy child is. Until people stop saying things like, ‘Pehla bacha ladka ho to santhusthi hai’ – this was said to a friend of mine.

How will mere words help, people ask. Well, I think, words help in its own way.

For one, some people accept it as part of culture. Having seen the boy child preference practiced all around, they take it for granted. They assume that it is normal for grandparents to love grandsons more than granddaughter(I have come across people claiming this- educated people, by the way). So when they hear/read people talking about the injustice, and the why it is so wrong to shun a girl child, they might turn a deaf ear initially, but slowly, I think it will make a difference. One of the people, who used to loudly proclaim how her son was the favourite of his grandparents, has now toned it down. She is now careful not to mention things like that in public again. Probably after she realized that not everybody thinks this way. Hopefully her thinking might have changed too.

I have seen this happen right in front of me. While people might not change their thinking right away, they might start to understand that culture is not a justification for everything.

The same goes for dowry. The more people talk about it, shame it, publicly, and stop treating it as part of our ‘culture’, the more likely it is to die away as a custom.

I am so vocal about this, that nobody in my friends/acquaintance circle dares tell me to have another child to have a boy. Somebody I know told a friend of mine to try again, maybe this time she might have a boy. Only to be told on her face, that she doesn’t care if she has a boy or not – she is happy with her daughter. That was the end of it.

Will all this talking make any real difference. I think it will. I think it makes people think – even if it goes against what they have always seen. And even if one person rethinks what they have grown up with, it makes a difference, don’t you think? At the very least, they might think before speaking in front of vocal people like us, some may remember not to let subconscious discrimination enter their actions, some might go even further.. From the place that we are at – any progress is better than no progress, wouldn’t you agree?