This month is being observed all over the world as ‘Plastic Free July,’ where resources and ideas are shared so as to do away with use of plastic, especially single-use plastic, as it is a major contributor of our waste as it is not recyclable.
Also, from July 1, 2022, the central government has banned the manufacture, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items like plates, cups, straws, trays and polystyrene.
This may sound very hopeful, but the ground reality is quite different. It is still being used in markets, as most of times, people are not aware about the hazards of plastic. And, to top it all, the plastic which is brought home is not disposed properly, and thus, ends up in landfills, on roadsides, and worst of all, in flowing water bodies.
Thus, creating awareness on plastic use, its drawbacks and most importantly, reducing its use and segregating it to further recycle it, is the need of the hour.
Shraddha Rangnekar, who is involved in many wildlife and environment-related events, has now initiated ‘Sort Small To Make A Big Difference’, under the ‘Wednesdays for Waste’ program project, where people are encouraged to segregate their waste. It is an awareness program under the Mineral Foundation’s Vasco plastic waste management project, supported by the UNDP, and in association with the MMC.
“This initiative started in the month of December, in Vasco, basically to encourage people and to get them into the habit of segregating waste. So, the objective was to get people to segregate the basic and most common waste that comes from our homes, that is empty milk packets, tetra packets, plastic bags and tooth brushes. The reason for choosing these categories was that they are recycled, but since segregation does not happen, they end up in the landfill,” says Shraddha.
Since December, more than 40 households in Vasco have joined the initiative by giving away the above mentioned waste. A total of more than 4,000 milk packets and other waste has been collected and sent for recycling. These milk packets are then washed, dried and given for segregation.
Shraddha collects all these items personally, and then sends them to a recycling plant at Pissurlem, where they are converted into plastic flakes/granules or pallets that can be remoulded into new products. However, not all plastics can be recycled, like Multi Layered Plastics (MLP) – for example chips packets, biscuit/chocolate wrappers, etc.
Shraddha, who is doing this work single-handedly, mentions that she faces many challenges such as the lack of awareness among citizens, and that most times, they do not consider it their responsibility to dispose the plastic waste safely.
The other main issue she currently faces is the collection of these items. Since she manages it alone, she collects all these items at her own house. She is also in need of volunteers and a collection centre, where people can bring in their segregated items.
In the times to come, she plans to engage with schools, institutions, hotels, etc.
“There is no financial incentive of any kind in this project. But, since it’s our moral and ethical responsibility, one has to come forward to create a better planet. The objective is to create environmentally conscious citizens,” says Shraddha.
Along with the segregation of waste, Shraddha also lays emphasis on reducing the use of plastic in our day-to-day lives by bringing in lifestyle changes.
Here are some practices which she follows in order to reduce waste:
I compost my wet waste
I bring whatever possible groceries in containers and cloth bags
Carry a bucket to buy fish/chicken
Bring eggs in a container or buy those that come in recycled packaging.
Use a bamboo tooth brush
Carry my own set of steel straw, spoon, plate and glass for street food
Don’t use any synthetic floor and toilet cleaners as I am in the process of shifting to bio enzymes
Buy things local as much as possible
What one can do to segregate and reduce waste:
Do not put your wet waste in a plastic bag as it is then considered as a mixed waste, and thus, segregation becomes difficult.
Compost your wet waste. If you stay in a flat, encourage your society to have a community composting unit. It will reduce more than 50 per cent of your total waste.
Segregate dry waste in different categories like plastic milk packets, tetra packs, plastic bags, glass, metal, card board, paper.
Do not add broken glass pieces in your waste as it is harmful for those who work in sorting centres.
Put used sanitary pads, diapers, used masks, and other medical waste in bio-medical waste containers. This waste should not be mixed with other dry waste.
Refuse plastic carry bags while shopping. Carry a bag from home. Always keep an extra bag in your vehicle. Single use plastic carry bags are the main contributors of plastic waste.
Keep used batteries in a used plastic bottle and do not dump it in your dry waste.
Carry your own bottled water from home and also steel spoon, cup, straw, plate, in order to reduce the use of single-use crockery.
You can contact Vasco-based Shraddha Rangnekar on +91 97633 80466 if you wish to hand over segregated plastic bags or empty milk packets