Segregation and Conservation- the things I do

Reading the comments from the previous post, I figured that it makes sense to put together a post with whatever I do, and I could add to them based on everything you guys do. It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it, if even one person started segregating by our efforts?

So here goes.

I segregate my waste into four categories

– Paper – All paper, newspapers, fliers, old notebooks. My domestic help takes the newspapers – I figure that if she makes some money of it- why not? To save space, I either crush empty cartons or stuff them with paper, so that less of my space is used up by the waste.
– Plastics – Plastic containers, bags, shampoo bottles, washed milk packets
– Wet Waste – Vegetable peelings, fruit cores, peels, left over food, egg shells, tissues soiled with food. Both veg and non-veg waste is supposed to go in here.
– Reject – Diapers, hair, sanitary napkins, soiled clothes

Medical Waste – ScribbleHappy was asking about Medical waste. According to BBMP guidelines, they will collect it on a quarterly basis. Do check out this link for more information. There is a lot of detailed information in there. In our apartment complex, we do have separate bins for e-waste, and the others that I have already mentioned, but none for medical waste so far.

I have found that the easiest way to segregate is to have the right number of bins to put things in. If we can’t find the right bin, the waste is most likely to go into the wrong one. I keep one bin for the wet waste handy, in the kitchen/utility area, so that all of it goes right into it, without having to hunt around for it.

Since most of the reject waste is from the bathrooms, it makes sense for the reject bins to be there. I have two bags – one for paper, and another for plastic. So it’s easy once you have it all handy and know where what goes.

I don’t use plastic liners at all, these days. Both my bins are lined with newspaper. The wet waste, unless you put waste with lots of water in it, stays dry and clean, if lined with newspapers. Apparently newspaper works for composting. And even in the landfills, paper would be better than plastic, wouldn’t it? I just clean the bins after they have been emptied.

I would love to have my own compost bin, although how feasible it is in an apartment, I have not idea. Have any of you given it a shot yet? While on composting, do check out this link. Reading this makes me want to try it out. But one step at a time, I guess 🙂 I should worry about furnishing my house first 🙂 My parents have a compost bin too -but they have more space and it’s not an apartment.

Conservation of Water

As I mentioned in my previous post, I try to reuse the RO waste water always. I also try to reuse the water I use to wash vegetables , rice, dals etc. All this goes only into water plants. It helps that I have plenty of plants to water. Of course, I do end up not saving this water sometimes, especially when I am in a hurry, but I do try to do it whenever I can. Sometimes, I end up with too much waste water, when the rains lash down at my balconies, but it still gets used. My neighbour has lots more RO water wasted as she has a larger family. She uses the water to clean bathrooms and the toilets. It’s not easy for her to lug the water everyday, but she does it because she feels strongly enough about it.

In the UK, the motto was ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Reduce what we use, so that we don’t waste as much, Reuse what we can, and Recycle what we can’t reuse.

So that’s it from me. Tell me, what else do you do? It would be wonderful to pick up more effective techniques to segregate waste and reduce waste as far as possible. And I would love some tips on re-using stuff.

Edited to add : I used to love having long relaxing tub baths, and long showers -but have now completely stopped them – makes me feel too guilty- just the thought of using up so much water. That one, goes in my list of personal sacrifices 🙂

Edited to Add:

Resources – I’ve decided to list all the related links/sites here
http://www.dailydump.org/ – Thanks Nameeta and Seema. This seems like a great resource!
http://smallnotebook.org/2008/04/06/how-to-make-a-worm-compost-bin/
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/4561-swmrt-solid-waste-management-guidelines

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?