All our work is guided by this understanding and we see it as our job to re-imagine and reinforce these connections, for ourselves and for our customers.
This is what we see of waste every day - waste workers taking garbage from our 'clean' homes 'away'
The dump on street corners frustrates us, but we keep adding to them -while cows and dogs eat plastic while trying to find food.
The waste is taken to the next transfer point while polluting and leaving a foul trail in the air
Mixed waste is touched daily by workers who must lift and haul with primitive tools, packing compactor trucks with the city's dump
Waste travels far until it reaches a landfill site where tonnes of mixed garbage is dumped daily. Scavengers and nearby villagers suffer the stench and disease.
The leechate from landfills is a toxic soup containing (among other poisons), battery acid and mercury. This seeps into the earth contaminating groundwater.
Meanwhile, close to home, a sweeper burns leaves as she is tired of hauling. A collector goes from dump to dump, filling his sack with valuables he finds in each trash pile. He is able to see value where we don't.
The nearby paper mart buys this from him and aggregates waste like milk packets, newspaper and plastic bottles until there is enough to sell to a wholesaler.
The wholesaler has more space to stock materials. Dry waste is further segregated by hand here - based on quality, colour and other factors.
Off it goes to a factory or processing unit where recyclable glass, plastic, metal and paper is made into other products - often in cramped polluted spaces, where worker safety and health is compromised.
New products go back into the market to be sold as pots or buckets or bottles or books.
The polluted water feeds the seeds the farmer has planted and gets into the produce that is finally sold in the market.
Industry also lets toxins into water bodies, the atmosphere and land - so though recycling helps, there are limitations.
Not far away, borewells are dug to irrigate fields and supply water to homes. All polluted by toxins, of course.
Because if you dont, someone else has to dig through your trash to recover materials. If you segregate and compost at home, you send 80% less out everday and dry materials are valuable to a recycler.
Necessary, but to only manage 10% of the cities waste, not the other 90% that can be recycled or composted! By dumping everything together we make it all useless. Some say we don’t need landfills at all if we put our mind to it.
First, stop lining your bins with plastic bags and use newspaper instead. The paper will not get wet and soggy if you keep your kitchen waste separately for composting and there will be less plastic on the streets for cows to eat!
If we litter, and we do not have a way to reduce the druggery of the work of a sweeper or waste worker, then we have to inhale the cancerous fumes from burning of waste in our cities. Throw out less to see less burning piles!
These green warriors help the city recycle materials at no extra cost, yet have to face haggling, distrust and discrimination. Their important contribution is not celebrated and they are still marginal in the cities development plans.
Younger kids see the connections and school seems to strip them of the urgency to take care of the environment. Marks and exams are what become important and the holistic perspective takes a back seat. Start young to keep the spark alive.