For the past few months, I have developed this habit of segregating trash at home. It has not yet become a common habit in India yet but do you know how much you can help the waste pickers and the environment by doing this simple task at home itself? So, let me talk about why and how to segregate waste at home?
Eco-conscious is the new buzz word. Sadly, we are living in India where we need to run campaigns like ‘Swacch Bharat’ which is touted to be wildly successful. And, yet we are not used to segregating our trash even after so much awareness and education earning high salaries and living in cosmopolitans and metropolitan cities.
Why should we segregate waste at home?
Our trash has lot of things from the wet green waste to the unhygienic sanitary and medical waste. Sometimes, we irresponsibly throw in the e-waste and batteries as well. When we do not segregate our waste, the task falls upon the waste pickers.
Did you know that the waste pickers are exposed to an abundance of health hazards because we are not used to segregate waste at home?
Exposure to the sanitary waste exposes them to loads of bacteria and other insects which get attracted to them. When we dispose of even small batteries, the chemicals leak out of them. When waste pickers segregate the waste, they get exposed to these chemicals like cadmium, chromium, mercury, et cetera. These toxic chemicals are also released into the environment causing environmental hazard.
Separating plastic, on the other hand, is a tedious task. Going through the land mines of waste and picking up every small piece of plastic is nearly inhumane. And, finally, at least a little percentage of the plastic ends up getting burned and releasing toxic fumes into the environment.
Helping the waste pickers and environment on the other hand will reduce our personal carbon footprint and help pass down the habit to the future generations. You can also earn money by selling off all the recyclable waste segregated at home.
How to segregate waste at home?
It is common knowledge that we have three categories of waste – biodegradable or greens, recyclable which includes cartons, plastic and glass and rejected waste which includes sanitary and medical waste. Electronic waste (e-waste) comes under recyclable waste.
The greens form a major part of our trash and is mainly compost-able. The recyclable waste is the one which we can make money out of and feel good about by contributing our bit to the environment. This category includes everything from your plastics and cardboards and papers to batteries and metals.
So, here are some salient points which you should take care of while you segregate waste at home.
Clean all the plastics and pizza boxes before you segregate them
When you are separating your trash, whether you do it on a daily basis or monthly basis, always make sure there are no food particles or drink residues present in it. They attract insects and bugs and rodents which is not desirable anywhere, even in waste collection centers. Make sure they are clean and dry.
Also, make sure you separate the right kind of papers. The waxy feel ones and the newspapers all stay separate. Only plain papers and tissues make it to my compost. Did you know cardboards are also great for composting but only if they do not have tape around it or has a waxy coating. Your best bet is to recycle them.
Do not snip off corners of your grocery packets
Make it a habit to cut the packet along its edge so that you have no problem emptying its contents and also you do not have to snip off little pieces of plastic.
Anyone has a tendency to snip off the corner of a grocery packets like sugar, salt, et cetera before emptying off its contents or storing it. This is a huge problem especially since we do the same to our milk packets. The problem is these plastic snips are too small to be caught by a waste picker and can not be recycled so they end up burning in the landfills or pollute the water bodies.
Dispose off the e-waste responsibly
Did you know irresponsibly dumping the electronics in the trash results in chemicals like chromium, cadmium, mercury, et cetera getting released into the environment. The waste pickers end up inhaling a lot of these fumes as well which puts their health at high risk. Also, these electronics can be recycled for their parts which helps saving Earth’s resources on the whole. Dispose off your electronics including used up batteries with the specialized e-waste dealers.
Be careful with Glass
Anything which is glass should be handled carefully and try to make sure it is not broken when you are dumping it. The fused out bulbs, tubelights are also included in this category. Make sure your waste collector knows if anything is broken. Do not throw it in a pile of plastic waste. Keep it separate and try to sandpaper the sharp edges so it does not end up hurting someone.
Reduce the usage of plastic at home
This is pretty obvious but since you have taken your first step towards becoming eco-friendly, you might want to go a little further in your efforts. It is not easy to revamp the entire house. You can start with buying eco-friendly products from now on and slowly replace everything plastic in the house. It will take a year or two depending on your budget and amount of plastic in the house.
Use cane, steel or glass storage containers instead of plastics. Start from the kitchen. Stop ordering from restaurants which still use plastic. Many vendors and restaurants have switched to cardboards and paper bags. Also, carry a few extra bags whenever you step out of the house just in case you need to buy something or need extra carry bags.
By making sure to segregate waste at home, you are helping thousands of people save their own lives and health and not to mention the environment. It is not a difficult process to follow and it does not take too much of your time and space. Follow it for a week diligently and you will find yourself doing this on auto mode from the next time.
Also, you do not need plethora of bins to store your waste. Just buy a big drum and put three separate garbage bags around the circle. Use each for one for different waste and once you find it getting full, it is time to schedule your garbage pickup. There are many professional services also coming up these days who pick up your waste at your door step. Find and enroll for the one in your city. Happy recycling!
So, do you segregate waste at home?
Have you developed the habit of segregating your trash? Do you sell the recyclables regularly. Do you recycle them in your own home? What do you do?
Till then, Swathy.