Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “The earth has enough resources for our need, but not for our greed.”
The manner in which we are overexploiting resources and polluting our planet to meet our needs suggests that it won’t be long before we wipe them out completely, and leave nothing behind for our future generations.
It is times like these that must make us adopt measures like recycling plastic and utilising these as resource materials that can effectively reduce our waste burden on the planet.
India roughly generates around 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste a day, as per a 2017 report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
While this study comprises extrapolated data from about 60 major cities across the country, yet another study showcases that almost 90 per cent of this generated plastic invariably ends up in landfills or water bodies instead of recycling, with about half falling under the single-use category.
Many individuals and non-profit organisations in India have been vehemently championing the cause of recycling and upcycling plastic for several years now. However, for these practices to be conceived and implemented at the administrative level is something that is slowly catching up.
Leading the way among civil servants, who are also eco-warriors, is IAS officer Hari Chandana Dasari, who is spearheading a ‘green’ revolution of a different kind in Hyderabad through various plastic recycling initiatives across the city.
Currently the Zonal Commissioner (West Zone) of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Dasari has been dedicatedly invested in numerous recycling initiatives under her jurisdiction for over two years now.
Right from installing upcycled furniture made from unused tyres and old oil drums at over 120 parks in the city to the conception of housing and sanitation projects where paver tiles and roofing sheets are made of recycled plastic, Hyderabad is witnessing a remarkable change, thanks to Dasari’s extra interest in the initiative.
So, what prompted her to take up recycling and initiate various initiatives across the cityscape of Hyderabad?
“The idea first occurred to me about two years ago. We had a lot of old tires lying strewn across our municipal premises and upon noticing, I was keen upon putting them to some use. These tyres were repurposed as upcycled furniture that was originally used in our offices. Then, I wondered, why not scale up the initiative and take it to public spaces,” says Dasari to The Better India.
Today, if you visit any one of the public parks in the city, not only would you find benches, seats, flower pots, and even dustbins made of upcycled tyres or oil drums but also colourful paver tiles lining the walkways for pedestrians that are made of recycled plastic waste!
Working on this recycling crusade alongside Dasari is Prashant Lingam of Bamboo House India, a social enterprise based in the city that has been providing eco-friendly and sustainable low-cost housing solutions for a decade now.
In fact, one of the projects undertaken by Prashant in collaboration with the GHMC on an experimental basis was covered by The Better India earlier this year, where an office made of part bamboo fixtures and part recycled plastic was installed in a public park near the KPHB colony in Kukatpally.
“The idea was to push the scope, and cost-effectiveness of alternative construction materials like recycled plastic, not just among public but also the administrative echelons and it worked quite well. Many people from the city reached out to us directly, asking if they could also have recycled plastic paver tiles in their homes. Representatives from municipal corporations of cities like Mumbai and Pune also got in touch to ask about our various recycling projects, as they wanted to implement something similar in their ambit,” mentions Dasari.
She also shares that this is a good sign because people are slowly waking to the perils of plastic and want to actively engage in recycling activities but don’t know where to start. “When civic bodies engage in eco-friendly initiatives like these, it sets an example for its citizens to follow and imbibe in their lives,” she adds.
At present, the GHMC is trying its hand at every possible eco-friendly measure that it can feasibly implement across the city. Upcycled furniture was the start, and this has paved the way for public toilets with recycled plastic structures that can dispel water quite efficiently.
“Compared to regular structures, the cost of recycled plastic construction materials might prove to be little higher, but we believe that this will be an offset to the cost that our environment is paying while answering to all our needs and requirements,” states Dasari.
Yet another initiative led by Dasari is the ‘Give and Share’ centre, where numerous kiosks across Hyderabad have erected small 3-walled structures, where people can donate anything and everything for underprivileged people to pick up.
“All of these structures are constructed using upcycled plastic bottles. While the initiative allows people to showcase their compassionate side, it also draws their attention towards upcycling and the greater message of environment conservation. With that we can hope that more people can forward and take up recycling as a way of life,” she adds.
Dasari also practices what she preaches and shares that her household has not contributed any form of wet waste to the garbage dumps in last three years, as 100 per cent of it is routed for composting—she has installed a compact biogas unit at her place.
She also has a knack for crafting and uses paper and plastic to prepare items, thus further reducing her part in adding on to the waste.
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Setting a remarkable example at a personal, professional and public level, GHMC Commissioner Hari Chandana Dasari is showing the right way for the rest of us through her recycling crusades in the city, and we hope, many more such creative initiatives will come along the way.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)