The garbage problem in Bangalore seems to be too high a mountain (literally) to climb! Can we afford to let things slide till we are sucked into a vortex of crisis? Do we need to face a plague epidemic, as Surat did some decades ago, before we wake up? What can we, as citizens of Bangalore do, to solve the apparently unsolvable issue?
Let us look at the three major aspects of the problem. First, garbage generation.
If we don’t generate so much garbage, we would not have to face the problem. How do we generate less garbage? The ‘wet waste’ comprises 60-70% of garbage generated in the city. If we could remove this at source, it would account for a large volume of garbage.
How do we do this? Many households have already started composting their wet waste in their homes. Many residential apartment enclaves too, insist on residents separating the wet and dry waste and compost the wet waste on a larger scale within their premises. Hotels too have started the exercise of disposing their wet waste to the maximum extent possible before handing over the waste to the authorities.
An example is New Krishna Bhavan in Malleswaram. A report in ‘The Hindu‘ quotes Mr. Prabhu, the proprietor, as saying his hotel generates around 300 kg of waste, of which a mere five kg of inerts is handed over to the BBMP. 200 kg of cooked food waste is picked up daily by piggeries, 25 kg vegetable and fruit peels are composted, 25 kg coffee grounds and tea leaves and 25 kg of ash is given to parks. Used paper cups and serviettes are sold to scrap dealers once every 15 days.
If a hotel, generating such a large amount of waste, can effectively dispose most of it without adding to the garbage burden, surely every citizen can!
The second problem is segregation of other wastes. If we can segregate and dispose of plastic, metal, electrical-electronic and paper wastes too, we will achieve almost a zero-waste generation.
Thirdly, we, as citizens, also need to confront the authorities and make the Government work for us! We need to become active members of our residents associations, and ensure that the authorities too fulfil their responsibilities.
For such a change to happen, we, as citizens need to ask ourselves: ‘Do we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?’ Several hundred children today, in schools across Bangalore, are aware and concerned about civic issues. Not only that, they are taking action to bring change in their neighbourhoods. Children who are members of civic clubs formed by CMCA (Childrens Movement for Civic Awareness) in schools not only in Bangalore, but other cities too are actually doing this in their families, and campaigning in their neighbourhoods to bring about change on this as well as other burning issues.
It is the adult population that needs to change. Mere complaining on social media is not enough. Mere lip service to ‘Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan’ or photo-ops with broom in hand will not do. There has to be a complete and sustained change in our habits and attitudes. For starters – don’t throw that snack wrapper, that pan masala pouch, that empty bottle or can of water or drink, that piece of paper – just anywhere. Wait till you find a dustbin and throw it only there. Small baby steps, yes, but little drops of water make the mighty ocean. Start with these and expand your actions to match your concerns.
Can we achieve that goal? If we set our hearts and minds on a clean city, we can and will do whatever it takes, to achieve it.