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A Thought – Environment Protection

Environment Protection Begins at My Home

There is a picture of Abraham Lincoln, which, if seen closely, seems like individual dots, but if you see it from a little distance the image of Abraham Lincoln is visible. Many of us are caught up in the micromanagement of our lives and are unable to see the connection between different dots and the emerging challenges on account of ecological depreciation on a planetary scale.

It is the ten inches of soil blended with sun and water on which the food security of humanity rests. The soil erosion world over, on account of developmental activities like building of dams, roads, bridges and diversion of rivers, is leading to loss of vast quantities of fertile top soil. Further, soil degradation on account of overuse of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides is leading to compromising the food quality and health. 

With the backdrop of the above, can it be possible to rejuvenate and revive the quality of the soil through our urban centres, which generate vast quantities of waste everyday as per the ministry of environment, 

It is important that we are not intimidated with large challenges that need to be addressed with simple ideas and big positive outcomes.

Greening Solutions 

Wet waste or organic waste consists of 50 per cent of home waste. Most cities are unable to cope up with the daily stream of waste. In many cities landfill sites are overfilling, while many smaller towns do not even have the so-called landfill sites (hence the opportunity to keep the landfill site free, which is an imported practice and can be done away with better resource management). 

You Can Help

While buying vegetables like radish, cauliflower and carrots, leaves should not be taken home. This reduces the load on the municipal system, which is already stressed. The above idea can be adopted by hotels with their suppliers, so that leaves of the crown of pineapple are left in the wholesale market. 
In the existing pots, remove one-third of the soil and put the daily output of organic waste in the empty space and cover it with a thin layer of soil to prevent the smell. Once it fills up, the manure is formed and nutrients will directly reach the plant. 
At home, observe if edible items are lying uneaten for a long time. If they are not spoilt, redistribute them in your own ecosystem; otherwise a lot of uneaten food finds its way to the landfill sites. Think about the energy–water–food nexus. 
While eating, think of four people – the farmer, the transporter, the vegetable dealers and the person who cooks. Your appreciation for food will go up, keeping the perspective of the ‘sweat’ that has gone into production of the food.
If you are entertaining, say, 10 people, order for 8 to avoid wasting food. In case of a shortfall, more food can be ordered; the idea is not to waste.

It is because of this reason that the Silicon Valley of India – Bengaluru – is drowning in garbage lying on the street. Where the garbage was being dumped earlier was near a village. The villagers are now up in arms and have refused dumping of garbage near their homes. This story will be repeated in many parts of the country. 

It is imperative that individuals realize that the government will not be able to cope with all these challenges on its own. Individuals must take responsibility for managing their waste in an elegant manner leading to a positive outcome. 

There are simple technologies for implementing the ideas mentioned here. There is the three-bin composter for organic waste, which can fit into a small balcony (most people do not have the luxury of a garden today). Similarly, leaves can be composted exclusively in a bamboo composter in gated colonies, special economic zones (SEZs) and campuses of many large enterprises. 

It is obvious the output of these two processes cannot be used by individual homes and can be redistributed to friends who have a garden, or the municipality for their needs. Houses in the outskirts can give the same to a nearby farming community. The options are innumerable and people will find ways and means of handling their organic waste responsibly and taking back to the earth, from where the organic waste has emanated from. 

(Views expressed in the article are that of the author Niranjan Khatri, general manager, Environment Initiatives, ITC Hotels)

Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE

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