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how to stop generating too much garbage?

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Pollution

We are hearing a lot about garbage management these days..sorting..composting etc are being proposed. However wanted to delve into the generation of wastes itself..

Broadly we have the organic and in-organic waste from any home at this point.

Many of us use plastic covers to collect the organinc waste itself. Probably thats because the high water content in the organic matter lets it start the decay process fast and plastic covers helps keep it 'clean' as long as it is within homes..but how to avoid this? 

My neighbor as a practice does not use plastic covers for their organic garbage..they use a dustbin and dispose it everyday so that the issue of decay/rotting does not happen..

The other thought is about checking on how in-organic waste is generated..plastics form a major part of this and the govt efforts of having only 40 micron thickness bags is kind of working..but can we start feeling good about using 40 micron thich plastics? No..not at all because any/all usage of plastic is a crime..for a simple reason that even a 40 micron bag cannot be recycled to another 40 micron bag! The quality of plastics degrade as it is recycled..so its best that we reduce plastic usage to the maximum extent..

Was thinking on what are the major almost un-avoidable plastics at home..below is a list..

1. Milk sachets -  ealier in cities like mumbai or perhaps in Blr too we used to get milk in glass bottles..but not anymore..its all in plastics now..can this be avoided? can we get back to glass bottles?

2.. Vegetable packaging - especially in bigger stores where they make us feel good when we bring our own bags to take everything else packed in smaller plastic bags..kothambari goes in one and so does lemons..how to avoid this? I think veggies are best bought from the local 'greens' stores rather than malls/big stores..here we can shop with cloth bags and not use a single plastic bag..however if we cannot avoid the big stores then suggest to put all veggies in one cover and let them put all the barcode/price stickers on that one cover itself..atleast the lemons wont complain that they are being packed along with chillies!

 3. Biscuits/chocolates/Beverages..all come in plastics and most of them are not even in 40 micron thick ..these are the worst of the lot..but the basic question is do we need these in the first place and are they good for you..the answer is NO!  All these are literally poison for our system..even for your children..the areated drinks like the colas are the most acidic with PH level at around 3 and the body struggles to ingest them..so are chocolates and biscuits..would suggest best avoid them always!

With FDI in retail being proposed, I am sure that is going to hit us hard in terms of having more unwanted packaging plastics at home..

Would request you folks to add to this and share your thoughts on how to reduce plastics usage..

Comments

srinidhi's picture

none interested?

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Looks like no one is interested in cutting down on plastics..I am sure one day our future generations will be mightily upset with the landfills full of non bio-degradable plastics..yes I have heard of bacteria grown which can eat plastics..but thats playing too far in natures ways..best is we trim ourselves soon!

Lets look at some more daily use items which come in plastics and can be avoided..

Water bottles: Many of the so called packaged 'mineral' water which we jump onto almost everyday is actually of questionable origins..there are many bottled water vendors who fill up water from borewell which are next to sewage lines right here in bangalore..so would suggest we better use water from home always!

Lunch boxes: We have 'graduated' to plastics lunch boxes in fancy colors these days..call it tpperware or otherwise and end up paying loads of money for them and change them frequently simply cos they start looking old or they start leaking as they cannot handle temperature well..would suggest moving back to stainless steel carriers as they are better in handling tempratures and last way longer!

Anithasunil's picture

vegetable shopping from super markets

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If you shop at the supermarkets, where they weigh each vegetable, generate barcodes and paste it on the plastic cover, each vegetable in a separate cover. Choose larger covers, and weigh the vegetables separately and  pack all vegetables in the same large plastic cover, and paste all the barcodes on the same plastic cover.  Sometimes you get stares from people behind urself in the queue, or from salespeople, since this takes a little more time! Tell them that it is part of going green :)

I used to reuse the carry bags for garbage disposal. But, with the current BBMP garbage collection where they refuse to take garbage in plastic bags, I will carry more clothe bags for shopping, since I wouldnt need the plastic bags for garbage disposal anymore. Alos, I can stop buying garbage bags.

Dispensing with tupperware could be difficult, since I love heating the packed food jsut before eating.. And most offices have microwave ovens these days. 

 

 

 

 

Naveen's picture

Needs legal teeth

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Individual efforts are fine, but to succeed, the movement against reduction in garbage generation (such as plastics) must be enforced through law by the city & state.

Suppose BBMP starts introducing additional charges for plastics disposal (from building societies or commercial outlets) or the state makes it mandatory for all retail (& wholesale) outlets to pay higher cess if packaging is done with plastics, the enforcement will have teeth & people will be encouraged to generally shun plastics use.

Some have already commenced the movement towards this (such as Delhi - see this link), but it's early days yet & it will take time, but it has to start soon.

abidpqa's picture

The first point could work if

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The first point could work if someone starts distributing milk in something like vending machine. The customer comes with the bottle and collect milk.  Customer will be responsible for the and h/she keeps it clean etc.

Many, I think most super markets have biodegradable bags. If that is done by smaller shops that could be an intermediate solution

srinidhi's picture

check before you heat..

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plastics contain plastisizers which give strength to them and there is always risk of them unbonding when exposed to heat..they also contain BPA which is recognized to be harmful when heated..

PLease check before you heat the harmless looking container..including from tupperware..rubbermaids etc. The above are only the knows issues with plastics..there are many unknowns too!

The other regular activity which uses too much plastics is our groceries..found it hard to replace plastics..even on buying all the dhals and rice in loose we end up getting them in plastic covers...typically because of better moisture handling..I tried reusing the plastic covers when ever I refill..guess this is not possible from the bigger stores and small things like getting coffee powder..especially the store blends is very difficult to replace..plan to experiment taking the container from home for a refill the next time!

Any thoughts on getting the groceries avoiding plastics?

abidpqa's picture

Heating food in plastic

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Heating food in plastic container is related to safety which affects me and people who share, so it is more my choice. also new plastics does not control BPA, as they advertise specifically.

Using plastic bags is related to pollution  which affects whole earth maybe, and I have to think about and be more concerned. So these two are of different contexts.

srinidhi's picture

does affect..

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Heat food - > container deforms(loose lids etc) -> dispose -> pollution!

I have done that crime many times..even tupperware/rubbermaid ones!

abidpqa's picture

I have idea of heating in

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I have idea of heating in earthern ware pots in the microwave. I think that will work, Internet has lots of links.  Claypots are not that efficient because of iron content but further the iron content of clay is low to 10%.

srinidhi's picture

steel works just fine..

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on Induction stoves..my office has counters with induction stoves..which takes only stainless steel containers and this heats food in seconds..faster than the microwaves and at a fraction of cost for the stove.

..not that I use them myself..as I have no hazzles in eating my food at room temp.!

vmenon's picture

WTE-- waste to energy

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i was a little suprised going thro past discusions on garbage/SWM that the "watse to energy WTE" debate never picked up speed.Flavour of season is segregation( good by itself),but lets acknowledge, that the current rush is purely the BBMP , following court orders( from the landfill issue), and is in no way a part of a larger SWM program or part of a long term startegy.

I am very skeptical anyway of the percentage of people who will actually do it , in a society not  known for  civic mindnedness, or a beuracracy not known to implement laws.

We have some advantages of being of being the laggard ,we can see world practices and technologies ala what happened in the telecom revolution.

In the extreme, there is the view that segregation is not required if there is the right WTE technology.

Essentially not sure that for a megapolis,with such a hetrogenous society and with abhorent ciivc sense and law enforcement ,that localised community garbage segregation and small composting centres can do the trick alone.

think there needs to be a mega solution.WTE maybe?

and there's many technologioes out there on WTE, plasma being one.Maybe a debate on that?

vmenon  

Anithasunil's picture

Supermarkets and Plastic Bags

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Talking about reducing plastics, we always take an anti-supermarket stand. Since we use so much of plastics bags when we buy from supermarkets, and since we are forced to use plastics if we buy from super markets.  On the otherhand, I believe that a significant poplulation would continue to buy from supermarkets due to a variety of reasons. Eventually, I can do a thousand things on a personal level to reduce consumption of plastics. But, it is not realistic to assume that majority would follow suit. 

I wrote about how I use single plastic bag for vegetables when I shop at supermarkets in the earlier post. I was thinking, is there a way to make this the norm. Can we try to push the idea to atleast one supermarket in town, to eliminate the need to pack each vegetable in a separate plastic cover? Here, I am not talking about the pre-packed ones of fixed weight. This is about the ones we choose, weigh and bill..

The reason my approach (choosing all veggies into the same basket and packing them in a single bag) wont work for super markets is, when I go to weigh the vegetables, they are kind of mixed up in the basket, and I have to separate it before the salesperson weighs it. This results in queue build-up, which is something supermarkets try to avoid at any cost..

What I would like is a system of baskets/trays. One would be a large basket/trolley as the ones we carry in supermarkets while shopping. The vegetable section should have smaller baskets which would fit neatly into this bigger basket. the smaller baskets could be ones that take one fourth the hieght of the bigger basket, and maybe 4 or 6 of this fit neatly into a row, in the bigger basket!

Thus, you get a chance to take the items in smaller plastic trays, which fit neatly into your larger basket, and you can handover the trays one by one to the salesperson to weigh and bill...

The motivation for this is from the neighbourhood stores, which just keep a stack of small plastic trays for customers to choose vegetables...

I hope, if some supermarkets can start this, and advertise on going green others might follow suit.

srinidhi's picture

Or we can just use individual

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Or we can just use individual covers till the queue and as they are weighed, put them all together and return the empty covers for reuse..

Best way I think the supermarkets can contribute is to start billing for the individual covers too..something like more than 1 handle less cover will be billed types..with exception of veggies which are wet etc..or 1 cover for 2 kg of veggies etc

Btw always wonder why ppl need so many controls to do things simple..

Anithasunil's picture

Individual covers which are

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Individual covers which are discarded at the billing counter would work well too...

The only advantage with the plastic trays, is that, it would discourage itself from being packed home :)

 

 

 

Naveen's picture

Garbage problem - NY Times report

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Bangalore's Garbage mess in NY Times..
 
"Bangalore, the capital of India’s modern economy and home to many of its high-tech workers, is drowning in its own waste. Last week, local villagers blocked the roads leading to the Mandur landfill on the city’s outskirts even as many of Bangalore’s trash haulers went on strike, saying they had not been paid in months. Some neighborhoods have not had trash pickups for nearly three weeks, and vast mounds of garbage are scattered through what is known in India as the Garden City."
 
For full report, click here.

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