Some method in the mess

Stinking Reality

Some method  in the mess

At a time when waste segregation is on in full swing, a second look at one’s backyard will reveal an ugly truth. A large chunk of household waste comprises leftover food, quite ironic in a society where many do not have access to even a square meal. That is plenty of food for thought and calls for rethinking, essentially, a change in lifestyle.

Most of the household waste comes from buying and cooking more than required.

Vegetables and fruits are sometimes left unused while some items are past their shelf-life. Making variation in shopping habits, storing and cooking can bring in change.

Sawani Bade, a computer scientist, believes in smarter solutions to reduce household waste. Calling for a multi-thronged approach, she says, “There should be awareness about better storage solutions. Like mobile apps that help women plan their kitchen, menu and inventory better, smart apps or software that recommends what and how much one should buy and how to make use of the leftovers etc. These solutions may seem far fetched but that’s what research is about  — developing useful and smart solutions,” she adds.

Sometimes, going back to the basics seems to offer a panacea for waste woes. Vandana Shenoy, a homemaker, believes in  following old practices. “Eating and shopping together, avoiding junk food and carrying your own shopping bags go a long way in reducing waste. Use cups, plates, spoons and bowls made of glass or metal for office, parties and get-togethers. Leftover food can be donated to maids, orphanages, or poor schools.

Recycle, reuse, repair, reduce, renew, recover, recharge, rebuild and recreate,” she says.

A view reiterated by K N Poornima, who teaches environmental science. “I would like to add another ‘R’ to it — Reason out. There is a tendency to buy too much from supermarket, especially when there are offers. It is not necessary to buy everything that comes free. Only if the demand stops, will the supply stop,” she says.

Waste management also calls for cutting down the use of packaged items. It’ not difficult to find items in your house that can either be repaired or recycled. Some of these can be donated to the less fortunate as well. But that point is rarely driven home.

Sawani explains how her dad recommends two kinds of food in the house – one that is freshly cooked but less than needed and the other, which has longer shelf-life.

She also emphasises on innovative recipes which are easier to cook. “There should be easily accessible and credible supply chains that can take used clothes, furniture etc to the needy. These mega shopping malls can earn significant goodwill if each one dedicated a shop in their mega structures to pre-owned goods. I would love to donate my stuff,” adds Sawani.

Composting the food waste is also highly recommended and Poornima feels houses should start using compost pots. “Those who have a garden can use the compost for it and others can even sell them. The government should make it mandatory to have a common composting pit,” she says.

The young also need to be made aware of the perils of wasting food and other items and value what they have. “For children, environmental science should be made a core subject. In our school, children are taught to make best out of waste. Some of the items are given away to charity,” Poornima adds. And that could save the planet to some extent!

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