Waste not, want not

Our landfills are over-flowing

Landfills around large Indian cities are overflowing and this smelly problem could get worse unless we bring down the amount of waste we generate. Landfills are areas where solid waste matter is dumped and sometimes buried.

What’s the waste?

Each home and office in a city generates a lot of waste. We throw vegetable and fruit peels, leftover food, plastic packets and boxes in which food, snacks and biscuits come packed, used up tubes of ointment, sheets of paper, old newspaper to name just a few. Indians thrown out 42 million tonnes of waste each year, according to an organization called Chintan which works in the area of waste management.

All of this is carted away by local garbage collection agencies which may or may not separate wet waste (like kitchen waste) from dry waste (like cartons and newspapers). It is then dumped in landfills located outside cities. The problem is that, after years of dumping these landfills are over-flowing. Creating new landfills alone won’t help as too much land will be needed to create these as we continue to dump more and more things.

The smarter solution is to obviously reduce the amount of waste we throw out.

Make compost from kitchen waste

This is the Kambha, a re-cycling bin that is available in India (Image from: The Daily Dump)
This is the Kambha, a re-cycling bin that is available in India (Image from: The Daily Dump)

Kitchen waste such as vegetable peels can be converted into compost, which is the best fertilizer for plants. Wet waste from the kitchen can be buried in a pit or can be ‘composted’ using specially made composting bins.  Composting is fairly simple and can be done by anyone. Kitchen waste is usually a big part of the waste we generate so composting will largely reduce the weight of your garbage.






Re-use and recyclerecycle1

Large cities like Delhi now have re-cycling agencies like Pom Pom that will take away dry waste such as cartons, plastic bags, used shampoo bottles, soap jars and newspapers. So collect these, and once or twice a month recycle them. In the absence of a recycling agency, the local ‘kabari’ or waste picker will also do the job. It also helps to re-use printed sheets that are empty on one side, envelopes, gift bags and glass bottles.


Here are some things you can do too:


  • Keep things for longer-repair your school bag by fixing that zipper or tear instead of demanding a new one at the start of the school year
  • Don’t use shiny gift-wrapping paper-use newspaper instead
  • Don’t take a print-out unless absolutely necessary
  • Buy things only when you really need them