The three important R's

The three important R's

It might appear strange but it is true that much before the advanced countries felt the need to recycle, we have been doing it for decades, mostly through our kabadiwalas, who go from door to door to collect all discarded items and pay money for these too! Then there are the ragpickers who recycle the daily household waste.

We tend to preserve old newspapers, magazines, bottles, metal cans and milk plastic pouches carefully and sell these to the recyclers who send these for further processing. However, citizens in the advanced countries are not so lucky. They have to recycle by bagging items like paper, plastics, glass (coloured as well as clear) and metal cans in separate bags to be kept on the curb for recycling. They do not get any money for these items. Often, big recycling bins are provided at malls and other places, where one is supposed to place the paper, plastics, glass and metals for recycling separately.

In general, segregation of waste is done by exception rather than a rule in our social milieu. In a few divisions of the city, enlightened NGOs segregate waste and turn some of it to manure that is sold at a nominal price. But that’s just a drop in the ocean. The decision to abolish the garbage bins on the pavements is a good idea, but it is not working well due to the tardy door-to-door waste collection by BBMP safai karmacharis. This has resulted in scattering of garbage on the pavements that is giving rise to a stench, making for a ugly sight and proving to be an easy target for ragpickers as well as stray animals.

Awareness is the key

There is no alternative but to bag garbage, together with vegetable waste, paper, plastics, glass and metal. Some of these could be sold to the recyclers. But there is little awareness on the need to handle e-waste. With the burgeoning growth of electronic items, there is an urgent need to handle electronic waste items separately. This may include discarded CDs/DVDs, dry cells, button cells, cassette tapes, printer tapes, and ink cartridges. A similar rule applies to handling defective electric bulbs, car batteries, electrical equipments, fluorescent tubes and chokes too.

In contrast to the ‘throwaway’ culture of the West, we tend to retain equipments for a longer period of time. Consumers do not mind getting repairs done to their equipments till the machine becomes totally useless. However, in view of technology advancement, with improved performance and energy efficiency, it would be desirable to trade your old machines for newer and better equipment at regular intervals.

However, care has to be taken not to dump old equipment haphazardly, which could cause environment pollution. One has to be responsible in discarding the products. You can either donate your old gadgets or give them back to the retailer. 

Doing our bit

We need to keep in mind that nature’s resources are limited, which is why we should adopt the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) sensibly. One has to think whether one should invest in a fuel-guzzling big car or fuel-efficient car that is easy on petrol.

Living a simple life doesn’t mean that you give up all gadgets. In fact, it means you choose to live a stress-free life, where you don’t have to worry about garbage or pollution. Remember, everyone is, in his own way, responsible for the problems affecting us today. Is the garbage issue troubling you? Then, make an effort to lessen the burden from your side. After all, every step counts. 

In view of increasing consumption by each household, waste generation is more than ever before. Waste handling should be mechanised so that it could be compacted and segregated properly. A time would come where every large housing society would have to handle its own waste and dispose of it in an environment friendly manner. Consumers have to be responsible enough to invest in eco-friendly products that are energy efficient, easy to maintain and easier to dispose. It’s high time we devoted some time to such pressing issues. Otherwise, waste generated could become man’s only footprint on planet earth.

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