Sunday, November 23, 2008

The "Saahas" to eliminate plastic bag use

Note: This post is targeted at people living in residential complexes in Bangalore. Most of it might apply to you regardless of which city or country you live in.

We had Ms Hema Ramana from Saahas visit our apartment complex today to talk about our waste management.
A few people attended the session. I have uploaded an edited version of the session that I videotaped. Its about 10 minutes and captures the main points that were communicated.

Saahas works in the solid waste management space. While there are a lot of things that can be done, for now Saahas is asking us to actively participate in their Less Plastic for me initiative.
We are being asked to eliminate our use of plastic bags. If you wonder why plastic bags are bad, a quick look at this website will tell you why.
I did take a look today and it is a very short website (wont take more than 10 minutes, but communicates the problem very clearly). There is also an accompanying blog if you want more information and news about this issue.

What can we all do immediately:
  1. Start carrying our own bags to grocery stores and other shops. Refuse plastic bags at shops wherever possible. Hema has left a few bags with Gowda (our apartment manager). Small ones for Rs. 30 each and large ones for Rs. 150 each.
  2. Stop giving our garbage in plastic bags. Use two dustbins. Empty one and immediately wash it and dry it. Use the other one for the day while the first one dries up.

These arent easy things and will require a change in our habits. This evening I was out and while returning I decided to stop and get some groceries. Then I realized, I didnt have any of my own bags and would be forced to accept plastic bags at the store.
I could have driven back home, carried my own shopping bag and gone back to the store. But I was short on time and ended up making the compromise. I felt guilty and the least I could do was combine all my shopping in a single plastic bag.
What I am going to do now is just keep a couple of cloth bags in the trunk of my car, so I'll always have them handy if I do happen to just stop by at the store. I am sure you all can do the same.

The second item of not using plastic bags to dispose off garbage is even tougher and I am not even sure I want to do it from a hygiene perspective. What do you think? There have to be better alternatives than washing and drying dustbins daily. Hema was talking about some company selling bio-degradable garbage bags, but I do not have information about availability or cost.

What we can do in the medium term in other areas of solid waste management:
  1. If everyone in the apartment complex agrees, then we can segregate waste right at home. We will just be asked to separate dry and wet waste. Saahas will train our housekeeping staff in the building to collect it separate and keep it separate. They will then further train our housekeeping staff to segregate dry waste further.
    Saahas will help us collect dry and wet waste separately and ensure it is properly handled and not mixed up after it is picked up from our apartment. This will need some space in our apartment complex to do the secondary segregation.
  2. If we do have plastic bags and we will inevitably have some even if we reduce our usage, someone in the apartment will need to collect them and drop all the plastic bags in the facility that Saahas has in Jayanagar. (This will need one of us to volunteer)

What we can do in the long term and potentially earn revenue through our waste:

  1. A compost facility or waste processing machine located within our apartment complex or feed our wet waste into other compost facilities in HSR. (whenever they are setup).


Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read the post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.