This article is not an advice, or opinion. Hell, it's not even a tip of how to do things...what I would call this post to be is a request for change.
As the title reads, I'm going to talk about making and keeping India clean. Why am I writing this? Let's just say that I care.
My answer makes me sound a little arrogant, doesn't it? But what can I say. I just care.
There are many things that comes to other peoples mind when we speak about our country and here are the top ten that is very common on the internet (Not by any order)
1. 2nd most populous country in the world (Fact)
2. Brainy (True)
3. Bollywood (Very True but changing)
4. Disease (Have to agree)
5. Food (True)
6. Traditional Indian women wear (The best)
7. Traffic (Synonymous with first point)
8. Cows on streets (funny but embarrassing)
9. Curry leaves and smelly (Insult)
10. Pollution (Our own fault)
I even read somewhere on the net where people have mentioned about rape, 7/11 and even used certain words to insult us which I dare not write here. They are not on the top ten but still... Most of the people who stand before a camera and speak about India will obviously speak well because they are going to appear on TV (not all of them) but the general idea that most outsiders have about our country is not so good from my personal experience and I must also mention that there are many who admire us as well. Come on folks, people living in the north India think that southerners are inferior to them and the southerners hate the northerners. Though the times are changing, the gap is still pretty wide.
Now, to get into the topic of discussion. I know that most of you out there agree that India needs to be cleaned and I mean the literal cleaning (not the political one or the corruption one). Tossing items just as we walk on the road, spitting on the road, littering and even pissing by the side of the road is a common sight which you'll be able to see all across the country and this has to change. How many times have you crossed a land filled with garbage by the side of the road and thought to yourself or said to your friends 'Why does our government do this? Can't they see that they are polluting the land and not to mention the stink. Eww' But hello. You're the one who is throwing it, remember? What else can we do with this trash? We can't store them at our backyard. Of course we can't and that is why we use a landfill but all that it has done is pollute our environment. We have started to implement methods to recycle the waste but we are yet to reach there because only recently did we become aware of it.
But who is ready to clean? It's a labour man’s job not part of the job profile of a graduate right? Well think again. If a graduate does not have self-discipline which he studies and learns for twenty years in schools and colleges, what can you expect from an illiterate?
Not only India but all major and completely developed countries had overflowing landfills when they were still immature but they acted on time. Below is a list of what the developed countries did and still do to get rid of their trash (Source: Internet)
In its search for a clean and sustainable way to dispose of the mounting garbage, Shanghai has a partnership with a US firm, Waste Management Inc (WMI) of Texas, the leading waste management services company in North America. WMI’s landfill gas and waste-to-energy projects get rid of 7 million tons of trash and produce energy equivalent to 14 million barrels of oil or 4 million tons of coal annually.
About 80 % of the city’s garbage ends up in landfills, so burning the trash and converting it to energy would be a significant space-saving measure. Burning waste reduces its volume by 90 % (residual ash is left). The energy produced is an economical alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Electronic Waste is a hot topic in China, and in Shanghai there are methods for recycling the e-waste. One such example is an e-waste pick-up hotline, run by New Jinhua Rubbish Recycling Center. The service includes picking up old appliances such as TVs and washing machines, as well as glass bottles and newspapers.
They have a concept of Zero Waste, where they are trying to completely eradicate the landfills by recycling all the wastes and converting it into usable energy and they have a success rate of 80% in this concept. The sanitation trucks collect the garbage and instead of taking it to the landfills, the waste is taken directly to the recycling/transfer facilities surrounding the state. So, no landfills anymore.
Three-hundred-eighty-five thousand tons are recycled. For example, shopping bags are recycled into garbage bags and old cardboard boxes are made into new cardboard boxes.
The remaining 146,000 tons are diverted via material recovery facilities, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion, mechanical biological treatment, mechanical heat treatment or energy generation from waste.
Out-of-date meat is sent to biomass-to-energy plants. An estimated 5,000 tons of meat that would otherwise go in the waste heap each year is converted into 2,500 mWh of renewable energy, according to Tesco, which says that's enough to power about 600 homes for a year.
The Republic of Singapore has strict guidelines for cleanliness and environment. No one is allowed to remove even a single plant or a tree without the government authority. Laws of cleanliness in Singapore are so strict that even spitting is considered an offense.
First you have to have the proper bags. Each town has local bags that are marked with the town name and what type of garbage should go inside. They are clear so that the contents can easily be seen and the labelling is colour coded. In Toyota City plastic went in a black bag, burnable went in a green bag and metal went in a blue bag for example.
Next you have to make sure that you are putting the correct thing in the correct bag. For recyclable things like paper and plastic there is a little icon printed on the item to let you know, however it was not as easy as it seems. There were a lot of unwritten rules that weren't obvious like clean paper should get recycled but if the paper was dirty it should go in the burnable bag.
With the garbage sorted you have to make sure that you put the right items out at the right time. Burnable garbage was picked up every week on Tuesday and Friday, plastic every week on Monday, metal once a month on the second Wednesday and landfill once a month on the fourth Wednesday
For items that are not picked up at the drop off spots you need to take them to recycling centres and they pay you for it.
These steps are taken by the government. What can I as a common man do? I can't run these sanitation trucks (Not to forget that even they are common people)
All that the government can do is put laws to maintain a clean society but it is we who must abide to the law at least for the sake of self-discipline and cleanliness we can do it, I would say.
Here are the answers to your question
1. A company called Tesco, volunteered to convert 100% of its waste into usable energy and they have done it. A private grocery and merchandise retailer has achieved this milestone and how many such retailers do we have in India?
2. Freiburg, Germany : It is also one of the greenest cities in the world. The city is full of trees and hills which are spread all over. Both the government of Freiburg and the people living there try to keep the city neat and clean.
3. With a highly developed educational system, people in Adelaide have more sense than any other inhabitants in the world on how to keep their city clean. There are parks after every few meters and no one is allowed to throw anything on the roads.
4. Zuric : The Swiss recycling is not only educating people on how to properly recycle their waste but also teaching them how to use these recycled products more efficiently to reduce the energy consumption in the city.
5. Calgary, Canada : people of Calgary are taught 5 basic principles to follow in order to make the environment more clean and healthy. Those 5 points are Sewage System Quality, Water Drinkability and Availability, Waste Removal and Recycling, Traffic Congestion, and Air Pollution. People living there strictly adhere to the rules and do their duty to maintain the city clean.
6. Finally, the answer that shocked me the most : Vienna, Austria : People are caring and do not litter of streets
My job profile requires me to travel to many places. I too used to litter the streets and dumb garbage outside the compound wall of my house but when I was in places outside India I instinctively restricted me from doing so because no one else does it. I did it once though (unknowingly) and a citizen of that country picked up the coke can that I tossed by the road and dropped it in the trash can. What he did afterwards changed me entirely. He just smiled at me after doing the right thing and I've never felt more ashamed in my life.
When I returned to India I found myself surrounded by trash. After starting my regular life style in my home I even threw a piece of paper on the road while walking but immediately questioned myself Why am I not dropping the trash in the proper place? Are there no trash cans on the road? of course they are there at every corner of the street . Then why did I do it? The answer was quite simple : Neglect for cleanliness. Carelessness. No one is being harmed right?
We maintain a clean surrounding when we live in any western or European country but we do not show the same behaviour in our homeland.
We have acheived this in Gujrat but it was not the work of just one man. It was collaborative effort taken by the entire state. India is a large country and nothing can be acheived here without unity.
There are a lot of initiatives taken by the younger generation of India to maintain a clean society but that is done only by a select few. That mentality must change. In times to come the illiteracy rate is going to go way down and it is up to the educated society of India to do the right thing. Change cannot come over night but initiatives can.
Change starts from within. I have changed. Can you?