Several women from an apartment complex in Bangalore came together and enabled the entire community to follow an effective waste management model. Here’s how they made it possible.
The ladies in the picture below may appear to be ‘kitty-partying’ but they are doing far more serious work, a work which all of us might ignore but which makes a huge difference to the world we live in.
They are the definition of the new-age women who, apart from managing their households, families, and even jobs, are taking pains to make everyone in their community realize the importance of each person’s participation in maintaining a clean, healthy & sustainable environment.
Meet the SWM team at Sobha Quartz, a residential apartment complex in Bangalore.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of these “Powerpuff Girls”, and the supportive residents of the complex, Sobha Quartz has now become one of the few residential communities which is religiously following waste segregation and management to reduce the reject being thrown into landfills.
The community of more than 200 families have joined hands for the cause of saving our environment by being responsible residents.
Waste disposal is a big headache in these times given the rate at which human population is growing and our modern lifestyles. Last year, BBMP issued guidelines to domestic bulk waste generators (like apartment complexes) to manage waste more effectively within their premises otherwise a penalty would be levied. Thus it became paramount to separate waste and dispose it strictly as per guidelines.
The journey of SWM at Quartz started five months ago, when one of the residents, Shubha Tripathi, got in touch with the Kasa Muktha Bellandur group, which is actively helping implement waste segregation in the Bellandur area using its innovative 2 BIN 1 BAG method.
“Wherever you go, you will see garbage piled up at road sides, empty plots or barren lands. This causes an irreversible damage to our environment. Waste segregation at source, recycling and disposing waste responsibly is the only solution to avoid accumulation at landfills,” believes Shubha.
Within days, a team of volunteers was formed consisting of like-minded friends and neighbors. They decided to adopt the two bins and a bag process where Organic, Recyclable and Rejected waste are put separately in color-coded bins and a bag making it easy for residents (parents as well as children), maids and housekeeping staff to understand and follow waste segregation.
The Organic waste (Green) can be composted and converted to manure. The Recyclables (White) can be sold to a scrap dealer to further get processed. Only Reject waste, which is between 5 to 10% of the total waste, will go to a landfill instead of all the mixed waste.
The members, in spite of their hectic family-professional lives and tough challenges, continue meeting once in a while to decide on their further courses of action. They have a Whatsapp group for quick discussions. The team does door-to-door campaigning for convincing residents and monitoring the compliance and sends regular emails and updates to keep the momentum going in the community.
“For the first couple of months, we marked those flats which did not segregate, but it didn’t improve the statistics and many people were displeased at being pointed out. However, in February, we decided to change tactic and started highlighting those residents who were taking the trouble to segregate well. That lifted spirits and made a shift in the attitude”, remarked Sheela, another team member.
It took some convincing, lots of hard work and sincere dedication but it bore fruit as the reject waste of the society reduced to just 10% of the total waste in a month! The group decided to present tokens of appreciation in the form of cloth shopping bags to families that segregated consistently and those that turned around.
“The most amazing and heart-warming stories are of those houses which went from not knowing how to segregate to perfect segregation without even a bin lining!” adds Sheela.
Waste vendors charge Quartz residents for the RED and GREEN bins, while they get business from the Recyclable White bags, reducing the overall cost for the complex! But all this would not have been possible without the dedication of their house-keeping staff.
Anandhi, one of the team-member explains, “Communication between the team and the house-keeping was the main barrier as many of us didn’t know the local language much and they don’t read or write English. We did a presentation with colorful pictures to train them so that they could spot-fix the collected waste properly. For example, soiled paper linings found in recyclables are transferred to reject waste by the maids as our waste vendor does not accept those in kitchen waste or any clean recyclables found in organic waste are transferred to the recyclable bag.”
It takes the effort of the whole community to make something like this happen, so needless to say this is a quintessential responsible civil society that cares about the health of environment. Hope this trend expands to all the localities. The need of the hour is to have segregation as a part of one’s lifestyle, but it takes continuous effort to reinforce it every day.
“Once I was a vivid plastic bag use,r but now I carry my own cloth bag for shopping. Swacch Bharat can be achieved only when each of us realizes that ‘My waste is My responsibility’ and I will do my bit to reduce the littering from my end. We have one planet to call Home, so let’s not flag it red with our irresponsible behavior,” exclaims Anandhi with zeal.
After all, as the saying goes,
“We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children…”