I look around while stepping out of my building. One thing that I see on a regular basis is the garbage collected from the drains piled up near the pavements. These piles mostly consist of plastic materials, cloths, and a grayish black slimy material which I cannot identify. The smell emanating from that pile is remarkably nauseating, but you will get used to it; eventually. These piles will remain at the exact location for days, in a narrow lane with limited space to drive, or walk. It is a congested lane with shops on sides, street vendors, kids playing around, and moving or parked vehicles. I have not heard anyone complaining about the garbage pile. People will walk nearby the filth; some may hold their breath, curse, or tip toe to avoid the contact with it. There are the lucky ones who get the wet filth spilled over their clothes when a vehicle drove past them. The feelings at that the moment is mixed with emotions of disgust, anger, fear, distress, and helplessness; I don’t have adequate words to describe it, because I am a survivor. After some days (or a week and more) the junk is removed.
Recently, this process of collecting junk from the drains became a daily affair due to rains; there is no space for the water to flow through the drains and pipes so it over flows, flooding the road. I accept that this grey black color water or wastewater flooding the streets is not a new phenomenon in Mumbai or any other cities. The flooding usually happens due to the blockage from plastic, paper, and cloth materials thrown inside the drains. There are garbage bins in every nook and corner! Authorities loosely remind the citizens to deposit their garbage in the garbage bin! Why would we bother? That is the job of those who collect trash from our house. We pay them, they ought to do it? I always wonder that I can barely stand the stench from the garbage bag at my home, how do these people manage to collect all the garbage from many houses and sort it? Some of them does not even have gloves or mask. I am sure that it is not a pleasant experience. I feel ashamed of myself that I need someone to clean the rubbish from my house; it is my job to discard it appropriately by depositing it in the garbage bin. How beautiful it would be if everyone carry their garbage bags to the bins and make sure it falls inside it. Well, we are different people from different back ground with different outlook towards life. However, we are responsible for our junk; agree or disagree, up to you.
Interestingly, on the main road situation is slightly different. Let me explain, there are trash cans in different locations as I mentioned earlier. Most of these bins are over flowing and surrounded by garbage, flies, dogs, and kids pooping. Yes, kids pooping. After all, it is supposed to be a place to put the waste (it is also a type of waste). My concern is for the kids. Why do people forget that the vulnerability of kids to illness is higher than adults? On the other hand, I barely manage not to stamp on the pet and stray dog poops on the pavements. If only we could imagine the situation of people who has to clean up all these mess. Now, close your eyes and imagine this entire situation in the background of rain (pouring). I forgot to mention that there are plastic covers of various sizes and shapes on the road and pavements. During the rain everything mixes up in the water. Autos refuse to drive through it ‘Madam, nahi jayega (cannot go). Bhaiya jayega sab gadi jathi hai (Brother, off course it can, every vehicle goes). Madam, yeh gadi nahi jayegi, aap paidal chaliye ghar samne hogi na (this vehicle cannot go, you go by foot, any way your house will be nearby)’. He is adamant that I should cross that black creamy water on my own. I do that carrying my child (with raincoat on), shoulder bag, back pack, and an umbrella. The feelings are beyond words. I wish I could drive; I know how to drive but I am scared, panic is the right choice of word.
We cannot blame anyone because all of us are equally responsible for improper disposal of garbage. Then why am I trying to write this? Because it frightens me; of the severe consequences it will have on our health, life, and the nature. The only way forward is the conscious effort from each one of us for a better environment. To begin with, I started to put the waste in the garbage bag and the bin, I know it consumes your time but it is worth it. And to those who argue “come on, all these goes to dumping ground, and then they burn it or use it for land fill, creating so much of health issues, you want to add to it?” I agree that it is another issue we need to address. Home is always the best place to start with. The change starts from us. There are 7.4 billion people all over the earth producing gallons of waste and I believe that is a concern in the light of the nature of waste generated.
Why can’t we convert this waste into a resource?