Shortly after moving to Bengaluru I received a wake-up call from one of my neighbours who caught me in the act of adding a bag of my food waste to a pile that had been growing on my street. He shouted at me that our street wasn’t a dumping ground and, of course, he was very right. I quickly retrieved the bag and apologised for my thoughtlessness.
I knew that what I was doing didn’t feel right when I was doing it, but I had become so used to seeing others do it that I thought what harm would my one small bag do?
Furthermore, I had been struggling to find an alternative method of disposal for days and sitting in my kitchen, this bag of food waste had become a bit of a hazard, as well as a nuisance as it was attracting a lot of flies.
The encounter with my neighbour brought about a stark and much-needed bout of self-awareness that I had become part of a poor attitude to dumping trash in the streets. The attitude that declares “as long as my house is clean…” whilst the city’s streets continue to drown in trash.
From this encounter I began to think about my own consumption habits and the attitudes I was keeping towards disposing of my food waste.
In the UK, it’s easy to forget about garbage altogether. Today, most local councils not only provide a door-to-door garbage collection service, they also provide the equipment one needs to contain food waste until collection day such as a sizeable food waste bin and compostable bags.
The food waste collected each week is then taken to a local recycling plant where it is turned into energy and fertiliser, so the only concern you really have regarding your food waste is whether you remembered to leave the bin out in the morning before you headed off to work.
Due to the ease at which I had come to experience recycling my food waste back home, I had never given much thought to the intricate process that it involves elsewhere in the world, and as such I had grown ignorant of the issue as I had managed to distance myself from the consequences. My food waste had never really felt like my concern.
But in India, in particular Bengaluru, my food waste is my concern. And it’s not just my concern, it’s the concern of the 10 million plus people I share the city with.
Waste management in Bangalore is in a critical state.
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It’s clear that the city is struggling with managing as much as 4,000 tonnes of waste daily. The city’s attitude towards garbage isn’t helping the issue either. According to a report referenced by the Economic Times, despite segregation of garbage (wet from dry) being launched in the city over five years ago, today, less than 40% of the city is said to be segregating waste.
Whilst authorities work on ways to manage waste at a city level, many concerned citizens have decided to take responsibility for their own food waste, or grouped together with others in their blocks or communities to manage the issue themselves. Some have even managed to create ‘zero-waste’ communities such as the Sri Shakti Kalyana Mahaganapati temple in Kalyan Nagar, which became completely waste-free in June 2016 by composting their wet waste and making their 500+ daily visitors bring their own containers for prasaad.
So that is where my quest to find a solution to my kitchen food waste in Bengaluru started and I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and inspired, by the many inventive ways that people across their city are solving their own food waste concerns.
Here are some ways I discovered that individuals are managing their food waste in the city:
Home composting –
Composting is the best way to handle your food waste; it needn’t ever leave your apartment or head to the landfills. Your daily waste can be converted into rich, organic soil used to grow flowers, vegetables or plants. I don’t have any external space attached to my apartment, but I do have a windowsill and a cupboard under the sink, which I found out was all I needed so I’ve recently started trying this out.
Use a ‘2 bin 1 bag’ –
This is an example of a small citizen initiative that has grown into a movement that has spread across the city of Bengaluru. It is essentially a kit that has a green bin for compostable garden and kitchen waste, a reusable bag for recycable waste and a red bag for reject waste, all of which come with a set of guidelines for easy use. The kit encourages households to develop positive habits in waste segregation, which, if done at the source, makes it much easier to deal with at later stages.
Kora3B Compost –
Kora3B Compost is an initiative by members of the Koramangala 3rd Block Residents’ Welfare Association, turning garden waste into manure for farms and gardens. The group of eco-crusaders gradually set up a composting unit and invested in a machine to shred the huge quantities of leaves and a mesh device to aid segregation. The group supports other members of the community to learn and composting garden waste and help them to join their initiative.