Living Green in India: “Trash Trail” Part II

Picking up where we left our waste tour in Living Green in India: “Trash Trail” Part I…

Stop 5: Jolly Mohalla Wholesale Market

After seeing local garbage collection in action, and visiting kabbadiwallas sorting their products, we visited the Jolly Mohalla Wholesale Market – the scale of which has to be seen to be believed. Families have been in business here for 50 years and competition is fierce.

 Scales – a key tool of the trade

Continue reading

Living Green in India: “Trash Trail” Part I

Have you ever wondered what happens to your waste once you throw it out?

Waste is an issue that has fascinated me since I arrived in India about 6 months ago. Although waste is often very visible on the streets here, I had a very limited understanding of how the waste management process worked. Although it may sound a bit odd, I was really curious to find out where my garbage was going. I guess I felt like I couldn’t take  any effective action until I had seen it for myself and understood the complexities of the situation.

Waste provides a good hiding spot for local street dog

I started doing some of my own research into the issue and a friend introduced me to a business called Daily Dump, based in Bangalore. Daily Dump sells composting equipment, and also runs a “Trash Trail” tour across the city. So I signed up and arrived at the Daily Dump office early one Saturday morning with 7 other interested citizens. The staff gave us a quick powerpoint presentation to set the scene:

I was amazed to find out that only 10% of what we currently throw out should be heading to landfill!

Continue reading

Indian innovation – turning plastic waste into roads

As a follow up to my “Living Green in India” Series post, Waste not, want not, I came across this unusual solution.

Plastic Roads Offer Greener Way to Travel in India – NYTimes.com

Rather than viewing plastic products, such as plastic bags and food packaging, as waste, one Bangalore company uses it as a raw material in roads to create polymerised bitumen. This adds a few years of life to the road and reduces the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill.

How many other so-called “waste products” could we turn into material for innovative products?

“Living Green in India” Series: Waste not, want not…

Starting from today (aptly World Environment Day), I will be running the “Living Green in India” series, where I will share some of the unique challenges of living in an environmentally friendly way in India.

Recently something curious happened at home in our Indian apartment. We had stored all of our used glass and plastic bottles on our balcony, not really sure of what to do with them (given the lack of accessible government recycling facilities). Our housemaid gathered up all of the bottles and then, just as she was leaving, asked me for a letter. Initially I was unsure as to why she needed it, but I realised that she wanted a note from us stating that we had given her the bottles (to prove to security at our complex that she hadn’t stolen them). Clearly the bottles were valuable and she could get some money from selling them.

What to do with all of our bottles?

This situation got me thinking about the whole waste management and recycling sector in India. To me, at least, India feels like a country slowly splitting at the seams. Waste is definitely much more visible and hard to ignore than back home in Australia. In Australia you put out your rubbish bins and just forget about it…blissfully unaware of where it goes or what happens to it! I guess at least in India I am more aware of its presence and that challenges me to recycle and minimise my waste where possible.

Continue reading

Sustainable architecture and an Indian eco-city?

As someone who is very passionate about architecture, and its role in fashioning the future we want for ourselves, I am always curious to hear about urban renewal and eco-city projects and how they can help us to address climate change, food security and water management issues.

Tianjin Eco-City in China is one of many such projects around the world. A number of new technologies are being tested here, including electric driverless cars, rubbish bins that empty themselves into an underground network and a process for cleaning up industrial pollutants.

Neighbourhood Centre, Tianjin Eco-City

However, such developments need to strike a balance between acting as testing grounds for new and innovative technologies and also being livable for their residents.

Continue reading