Before we get into who is responsible for all the waste problems we are facing, Voyage has something to ask the reader.
Question 1: Where has this picture been taken?
Question 2: Where has this picture been taken?
Answer: If you were thinking somewhere in the Himalayas, you are part of the 90% people (based on mountain urban demographic opinion survey) who got it wrong.
The pictures are stock footages of mountains in Europe and New Zealand respectively.
Malana, Himachal Pradesh, April 2017.
Let us observe and reflect how tourists/ travelers, in a moment of indifference, litter and mar the beauty of our pristine mountains. This waste, mostly plastic, will hang around mountains for hundreds of years.
If our Sikkimese readers feel that this is not the case in their geography, the following images could perhaps shed light on their local scenario.
On route to North Sikkim
You go to Namnang View Point – what do you see? Do remember, Namnang is often visited by tourists but mostly frequented by local youth.
Who is responsible for this litter?
The Industry or The Government or The Citizens?
Do the readers think it is easy to clear this up?
Why do people who go abroad say it is much better, much cleaner? It is because either people are either mindful or the government is strict. In any scenario, the citizens don’t consider the environment as their personal dustbin.
As Indians, we are so accustomed to litter and filth, that it feels it is the way society functions. WASTE is INVISIBLE.
After traveling or just by becoming mindfully conscious, There comes a time in some of our lives ( mostly in people who love nature) – where waste suddenly becomes visible. Let us define it as something called “The Intervention Point“.
We realize that humans elsewhere have better standards of living, we realize that our waste problem is humongous, we realize that it has taken massive proportions and eventually shrug our shoulders, saying it’s not my problem to FIX!
Effective Waste Management/ Zero Waste / Sanitation / Cleanliness may seem overwhelming, but has a very straightforward solution to it. As simple it may seem, it is equally hard as it requires a very difficult thing to do – BRINGING CHANGE FROM WITHIN.
We at Voyage have a theory. It can be called the “Road to Zero Waste” or “Journey to Zero Waste” or simply “Zero Waste Voyage” – to the utopian dream of a perfect world.
COMMUNITY LEVEL :
It starts with us molding a basic behavior which most have – forgetting about something after it leaves our ZONE OF CONTROL.
What do we do after we consume something in the car? What do we do when we go for a trip ? What do we do after having a smoke? A lot of the waste reaches the ground, creating a new garbage spot unless swept by somebody.
A question posed to readers – What is the most littered item on Earth?
It is cigarette butts – which is made of cellulose acetate (plastic). The photos shown above are just the rest of the junk. Think about that!
Step 1 = Taking responsibility of your discards and prevent littering.
Step 2 and 3 involve no burning ( which would be discussed in a later post) and proper disposal (no burying, no dumping in Jhoras/drains); all culminating into better waste collection and cleanliness and positive “Climate Action“.
Step 4 – Segregate at Source: Waste is a resource and needs to be driven by the circular economy principle. The next phase in any person’s journey moves to assist in the processing of the waste. This requires every individual to take ownership of their waste and SEGREGATE AT SOURCE.
Is it that difficult? Households in Austria have 4 bins in each house. Japanhas 9 to even 44 depending based on wards. Can’t we manage 3? Or is this the Govt’s job?
This is what a community can do to stop the problem – all driven and possible only by individual behavior molding.
Timely Government and Industrial Interventions can ensure that the waste is recovered as a resource. This leads to stopping of roughly 90% of waste reaching a landfill and dramatically reducing the problem.
But is this enough?
The goal of Zero Waste is for no trash to be sent to landfills!
The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is
“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them”.
All achievable by participating at a Community Level!
ZWIA also states that “Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use”.
What does this mean? The first few milestones have to do with Waste Management and Sanitation. But to avoid the burden on Mother Earth, to conserve our resources, to make our planet fit for living for our future generations, a further journey must be undertaken.
This is a SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, where one has become so mindful of their bond with nature, that they automatically try to minimize their footprint. This brings about a change of lesser material desires. How?
Step 1 – Reuse – Where one carries a steel bottle everywhere, instead of purchasing a new Plastic water bottle. Where one carries a cloth bag always for grocery shopping instead of taken a PP (Poly Propylene) or plastic bag from their local market. So forth and so on.
Step 2 – Reduce – Where one starts losing touch with their desires of eating packaged foods, drinks and actively looks for ways of reducing any kind of plastic or other materials in their lives.
Step 3 – Voluntary Simplicity – Where the ladies adopt menstrual cups, gents forget about condoms, leather (stays for 40 years in a landfill until decomposition and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) becomes a luxury and a big no-no and so many other examples.
This seems extremely daunting – such a spiritual journey is only embarked upon when one becomes very aware of their own footprint and generates compassion for the environment drowning in the punishment of Mankind’s material desires.
Some take up this lifestyle. These are the Zero Waste Enthusiasts, who by bringing subtle changes in their lifestyles, make a considerable impact in preserving nature.
What about the rest who find this a hassle or too daunting a task?
Just by participating at the community level leads to a high impact in decreasing their footprint. And for them, Zero Waste focuses on “Responsible Production and Consumption” based restructured systems to reduce waste.
In simple terms, if a material doesn’t follow a circular economy or sustainable natural life cycle, they are redesigned to make it flow back into the economy. If found impossible, these items need to be phased out – like single-use disposable plastics.
When all materials are redesigned or when every human adopts the personal journey can we hope to see the Utopian Dream of a Sustainably Developed Planet.
TLDR? Board the Voyage, follow the milestones and embark on your own personal Zero Waste Journey!
*Voyage supports SDGs