Easy Ways to Love Thy Environment – Managing Our Stuff

Nupur Gill

Nupur Gill

Co-Founder, Designated Partner at Perennial Publication LLP
Nupur is an environmentalist at heart who enjoys writing & sharing knowledge with people. Having pursued BBM from Christ University & Masters in Environmental Studies from Imperial College, London she had a lucrative corporate career before co-founding 'Perennials'. She believes knowledge can transform lives and in her downtime enjoys travelling and reading.
Nupur Gill

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A new year commenced, resolutions were made and broken. Are we better people yet? Yes, maybe. Can we be better still? Sure, why not?

In our own little ways lets dive into this series in which we see piece-by-piece what we can do to be a little more tuned in to our local environment.

Managing Our Stuff

There are many streets, corners and scenic landmarks across the world marred by litter. On a visit to Paris with friends three years ago, I was taken aback to see trash strewn in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower. While it luckily was not captured on my photographer friend’s lens, perhaps it should have been. “Why?” you may ask? “To expose the reality of our collective actions,” I’d say.

Why when we love to see clean beautiful surroundings should we toss the responsibility of keeping it that way to others and instead partake in the opposite? So instead, lets consider a few of the things we can do differently!

Don’t toss out the garbage!

When travelling its easy to assume we will find trash cans to throw out our junk, but many times there isn’t. Instead of leaving our marks on years of history or on pristine natural beauty – by dropping a tissue on the pavement, tossing a biscuit wrapper out of the car, shedding a band-aid in the sea, or throwing an empty drink bottle while hiking in the jungle – we can carry a small spare bag (preferably biodegradable) or box in the backpack or in the car to put it together till we reach home or find a proper public trash can. Needless to say, this applies when travelling locally between home and the office, the market, the movies, etc too.

But one may wonder, when others are doing that and there’s already garbage piling up on street corners and roads why bother? Those open public garbage heaps are disease havens. Avoiding their creation and putting an end to their sustenance at any cost will only benefit our collective health. Open stashes of garbage are breeding grounds for rodents, flies and a whole host of other disease carrying and causing pests. Without us throwing our trash in the open, there won’t be the risk of a health hazard, which could affect us, or anyone else living the surrounding areas.

Local council not doing their job of collecting waste from houses – compelling the street corner collection? Come together as a community with the neighbours, and pester them, give them ideas to help organise better and get things cleared up. Many would think, who even has the time to do all this today? Well, carving out time for your own health and hygiene is probably worth the effort.

Separate the Waste

All our things cannot be treated the same way. In cities that do segregated-waste collection, definitely do it. In those that don’t, do the best you can.

Kitchen waste can be composted. If you have the luck of living in an independent house, acquire an economical, earthen, eco-friendly composter in which you can toss in all the organic waste the kitchen yields such as fruit peels, stubby ends of veggies, and the like. Or you can even dig a deep pit in your backyard. Soon, there will be manure for one’s own garden, so bye-bye to the store-bought stuff. No garden? No problem, donate it to those who have or sell it at the local nursery/farmers’ market.

And for us urban apartment dwellers, we can have a chat with the building manager/council and acquire a compost bin to keep where the other trash is also kept and have a training session for all those who live in the building. This would be a fantastic way for the apartment society to either make money for its administration by selling the manure, or to make donations to budding/small-scale farmers. A practice adopted by my building management in Bengaluru, and by some others such as a Lokhandwala building society in Mumbai, that only discards its biomedical and electronic waste.

Electronic waste or e-waste can definitely not be sent down the regular waste stream. Chemicals from it are super harmful to the people handling it, the local soil around the landfill it ends up in and can even leach into water bodies. But what is electronic waste? Old mobile phones, computer screens, TVs, CDs, batteries, pen drives, and so on. Essentially any electrical or electronic devices that are discarded constitutes e-waste.

The best way to deal with e-waste is to collect it locally at work or in our residential areas, identify the closest e-waste handler and on a monthly/bi-monthly basis, depending on the amount of waste collected, deposited with the appropriate handler. This is fairly simple to set up; the only effort required is to get the neighbours onboard.

Also, there is a lot of unnecessary and extra stuff we end up accumulating. Remember the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Well, nothing truer for those who have taken up ‘upcycling’. From empty pens, newspapers, to broken glass bangles. There are some amazing and creative folks who turn all this and more into beautiful artefacts and utility items such as lamps, window blinds, and the like. Simple searches for such initiatives in your city should help and if not, approach NGOs, design centres and even the local raddiwalas who usually have a fair idea.

Starting anywhere is a good start! So lets get going, because its just a matter of habit and soon one does not even give a second thought to it as it becomes ingrained in our daily behaviour. And if you need some motivation, remember it’s for us, and our loved ones.

Enjoyed this read? Stay tuned for the next part of the series.

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