Part of ‘Waste Management’ in reducing Carbon Footprint

Of late, it has become a fashion to speak about environment but do nothing about it. When there are any natural disasters, the world raises a hue and cry about it only to shut up after the dust settles and everything is conveniently forgotten Usage of plastic is so common and it is strewn everywhere. While there are no specific rules in place about littering, it is sad  that most of the people who litter are the so-called educated junta. Common sense is not something that can be made as a study course so you can mug it up and expunge at the time of exams. How many times have you seen car windows coming down, hands emerging to throw something onto the roads? It is not my intention to bash up the rich for being callous, but is it too much to expect a little civic sense from educated people at least?

India with its billion people still doesn’t have a good environmental plan with policies to control carbon emissions, build recycling units and promote renewable sources of energy. We know that India is a developing country. But the world doesn’t get any better just because we are still too weak and powerless to implement important environmental measures (as per the UNFCCC agreement, India is not subject to any binding emission reduction targets until the year 2012). At the country level, sections of poor people cannot buffer themselves from the climate changes as is evident from the droughts and cyclones. What explains the unbearable heat waves, increasing humidity and natural calamities like floods, tsunamis if not our passivity towards the extent of Nature’s damage?

Hyderabad had long since surpassed metros like Delhi and Mumbai in vehicle load with 800 new vehicles coming onto roads everyday on an average. Continued emissions will mean that the world will experience a radical transformation of its climate. Such changes threaten the basic requirements of people around the world – access to food and water, use of land, and issues of health and environment. Coming down to the most important things in environment protection, waste management in my opinion is in a much neglected state. Sadly, our understanding of ‘recycling’ doesn’t extend beyond rag-pickers and scrap dealers.

A developing country like India is likely to face massive migration of people from rural areas to urban areas. If waste management is not taken seriously, it will surely create environmental and health hazards which will be next to impossible to handle with the ever-increasing population.

Not only is this ecologically beneficial but also for developing countries, recycling of waste is a very delightful option available in terms of employment generation for the urban poor with no skills and investment.  In a way we are lucky to be economically challenged so that we can’t take up waste treatment using new and expensive technologies since they have serious social and environmental implications.

According to a UNEP report, the amount of e-waste being produced – including mobile phones and computers – could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in India.  This could be incredibly fatal and it is high-time the government strictly implemented the recycling laws it made nearly a decade ago. Recycling not only recovers materials for future use, but also reduces the carbon emission caused by the manufacture of new ones.

Majority of cities in India are yet to implement the recycling laws of door to door garbage pick-up, waste segregation, composting bio-degradable waste, recycling and setting up well-maintained and safe landfill sites for residual waste disposal. Citizens’ groups and non-governmental organizations can only go so far without getting mucked in local political dynamics. It is the basic responsibility of each one of us to reduce our carbon-footprint as much as possible.

However more than anything, a little civic sense coupled with common sense will go a long way for the success of this.

Nandana Nallapu

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