Do you cause air pollution through indiscriminate disposal of waste? Most of the readers may say NO. Think about the simple cycle your daily waste goes through. Generally, we are not much aware of it or do not care to bother. From most of the households, someone collects it at the doorsteps and we think our job is over. Your waste is collected at the nearby dhalao from where a truck carts it off to a place we may never see. Gradually, we see, hear or read the ‘hue and cry’ when mountains of dumps keep increasing heights.
Delhi has three of them and is getting ready to overshadow the historical Taj – only in terms of height! Every city in India has such big or small hills of household trash which is threatening our health and the way we live. Fires are frequent at such sites releasing many dangerous gases including methane gas which is 21 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. It all comes back to you – your garbage burnt into polluted air from the nearby dhalao, landfill and even the incinerators used to burn your waste.
Time to think. Time to take charge. Time to declare My W.A.R. – Waste and Air-Pollution Responsibility.
“This is the responsibility of the Government. We pay taxes. We pay for garbage clearance from our homes.” You are right! We do create waste. We create a lot of it. Delhi alone exceeds 10,000 tons of waste each day whereas it is around 150,000 tons a day in India. It is estimated that in India, by 2030, we would need land space equivalent to the size of Bengaluru city to dump our waste if we continue creating so much of waste at the same static pace. Expecting the Government alone to clear the dirt we create is expecting too much. It may again come back to us in the form of higher taxes along with severely higher levels of air quality around the year. Are we comfortable in our collective lethargy of inactions? It is high time. Declare My W.A.R.
Let us not hide behind another excuse. HABIT. Yes, habits are tough to change. How about motivating yourself to create a new habit. Old saying, “an action repeated becomes a habit, a habit over the period becomes a behaviour.” Try it diligently for few days and you can surprise yourself with a brand-new habit of a responsible citizen.
Focus on three actions to begin with: Waste Segregation
Waste is broadly classified into bio-degradable (this easily disintegrates and assimilates harmlessly with the soil) and non-bio-degradable (this does not disintegrate). Bio-degradable, also called, wet waste, includes kitchen wastes such as vegetable and fruit peels, leftover food items, non-vegetarian wastes, egg-shells and the like. Non-bio-degradable, also called, dry waste, includes plastics in any form, metals, batteries, glass etc. This also includes E-waste (unusable computer and electronic parts) and Sanitary waste (sanitary napkins, diapers, ear buds, dental floss, bandages, used needles etc. Careless handling of these can cause great harm to the environment and consequently to human and animal life.
Ensure to dispose of wet waste daily unless you wish to create compost at home or at a nearby compost pit in the park or as worked out with your neighbours and RWA.
Dry waste can be recycled. It will help the garbage collector if you give it separately. They may make little extra money too. If we do not do it and this gets burnt, imagine the increase in air pollution due to your oversight.
Dispose off the E-waste and Sanitary waste as per municipal guidelines only.
Your singular noble action is appreciable but may not have a bearing on the waste-tonnage your city generates. Create a momentum. Talk and convince your neighbours and RWAs to work collectively. Use the power of social media to increase awareness and add people to your actions. Be the power of ONE you expect to change the mindset in the society. You will be surprised by your own achievements with your diligence.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The best solution, of course, is not to have any waste at home. This looks difficult. Reducing makes a lot of sense. Intensify the household practices in India of Reusing the discardable few times before letting it go. Involving family members in the creativity exercises at home can bring you pleasant wonders of Recycling the discardable. Check YouTube and Google and you may get brilliant ideas to try and showcase your talent. An important R that your family may add is Refuse. Refuse to accept single use plastic, Refuse to accept unnecessary plastic bags and other things which become a challenge to dispose off later. Refusing to buy more than what you need is an intelligent money saving option too.
Nature has its own ways of waste management. Fallen leaves and branches, vegetables, fruit and grass, dead birds and animals – each of these are raw materials which get composted, returning their nutrients back to the soil.
Mankind creates a challenge. We are going through the period when Nature did its own corrections. The air became cleaner but we had to wear the mask and hide at home. Let us learn. Let us accept the reset and work towards a new normal. Your ways of waste management may not bring down air pollution in your city drastically. It will definitely contribute as a mitigating factor. Time to make a reality. My W.A.R. – Waste and Air-Pollution Responsibility.
Dr. Arvind Kumar
Founder – Trustee
Lung Care Foundation
 “India’s Trash Bomb: 80% of 1.5 lakh metric tonne daily ….” 21 Jul. 2019, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/india-s-trash-bomb-80-of-1-5-lakh-metric-tonne-daily-garbage-remains-exposed-untreated-1571769-2019-07-21. Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.
 “‘Solid Waste Management Rules Revised After 16 Years … – PIB.” https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=138591. Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.