As we go through the day, doing our regular chores, we seldom think about the carbon footprint we are leaving behind. Even seemingly trivial things like the mindless dumping of garbage in one bin can have a major impact on the environment since it is done on a gigantic scale, in almost every household in India.
In fact, in a research done by The Economist, it was revealed that ragpickers are the only reason why India is not one of the top ten plastic polluters in the world. You can read the whole story about it here.
Realising the importance of waste segregation and management, four youngsters from Mumbai decided to take up this issue and involve other Mumbaikars in their mission.
Zulkif Shaikh and three of his friends decided to not take up a well-paid job after completing their masters in Green Technology, and instead, started Sanjeevani S3—an organisation which promotes waste management.
“When we graduated, we realised there was no sensitisation towards waste management. That’s when we decided to start awareness courses in schools among students on composting, vermicomposting and waste recycling. As part of the course, we explain the problems of not managing waste and also teach them about the solution,” Zulkif told the Hindustan Times.
What started with a course for one school has gained momentum over time. Today, Sanjeevani S3 teaches the course in 203 schools and 33 colleges. Not only have they stepped up to educate students about the impact of waste segregation, but have also approached high garbage generating spaces like housing societies and restaurants.
Here, they conduct ‘in your backyard’ sessions and show people how to segregate their waste, process it, and what impact it will create.
“People don’t understand waste segregation, as a result of which sometimes electronic waste (e-waste) is also disposed of along with household waste in landfills,” Zulkif said. He added that,”Although the civic body manages waste in landfills, a systematic study says that because there is no proper waste segregation, these heavy metals from e-waste affect the soil.”
We have designed games related to waste segregation which helps the residents and kids understand it in a better way. To make it more interesting, we have gifts for winners.”
Currently, Zulkif and the team are working with 123 societies and 291 restaurants with a brigade of 18 volunteers and employees. Sukla Das, a resident of Valley Flowers society, who, along with Sanjeevani S3 has built a semi-automatic composting system told HT, “We never realised when BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) made changes regarding waste collection and management. We have personally saved a lot of money because now we do not use plastic bags for disposal of waste. Also, all the compost made from our waste is used in our gardens. We now have plans of selling some of the excess compost.”
The organisation does not just show people how to segregate waste but also takes measures to see it to the end.
It collects around three and a half tonnes of dry waste and 800 kg of wet garbage every day from the societies and restaurants it has tied up with.
Zulkif told TBI that Sanjeevani S3 goes step by step in segregating and managing waste “Once we achieve more than 90% segregation, we install our composting system,” he said, adding that”We have optimised the system by studying all the factors affecting composting like moisture, particle size, aeration, periodic mixing, C/N (Carbon/Nitrogen) ratio, sunlight and pH.”
The wet garbage is then processed at their site in Malad, Mumbai. They work with 18 ragpickers who collect the dry waste and sends them out to 30 companies for recycling.
On an everyday basis, Sanjeevani S3 manages about 15 tonnes of waste from source to end. They visit restaurants, societies and companies on a daily basis, and the schools and colleges, once every week.
Zulkif concludes by saying, “Don’t let your waste go waste. Make it a resource by segregating and composting for a better future.”
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)