India is a peculiar country. Like mushrooms on a decayed bark, garbage mounds pop up precisely at sites where a sign specifically instructs not to litter. Apart from marring the aesthetic beauty of the area and raising a stink, these garbage mounds do more serious damage. Waste disposal instead of reusing reusable materials puts more pressure on the environment to produce virgin materials, taking a toll on the available resources and energy reserves. This is especially true of plastics, metal and paper.
Certain waste items containing chemicals like electronics, plastics, batteries, paints etc. run the risk of releasing toxins into the environment if not disposed off properly. Improper waste disposal also releases greenhouses into the atmosphere, which in turn sets off a chain of harmful effects. Garbage dumps also act as breeding ground for the spread of vector-borne diseases like Dengue, Malaria etc. There also lies a question of overflowing landfills.
Waste disposal statistics point to a Wall-E like dystopian future. The metropolis of Delhi alone produces 8,500 tonnes of solid waste, 5,000 tonnes of electronic waste, 500-600 million gallon of sewage and 10 metric tonnes of bio-medical waste everyday. Only 5% of this figure is recycled.
While the three Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle- are shoved down student’s throat as a part of the mandatory Environmental Science module, the rote learning hasn’t translated into action. There is immense potential in the wisdom of the three Rs as as much as 50% of this waste is fit for composting and about 30% recyclable.
Since painted signs in big font and academic rote learning have failed to influence the masses, two organisations and an artist came together to devise a different strategy. Karma Recycling, Delhi I Love You (DILY) and Shaily Gupta are kickstarting ‘ The Dirty Pictures’- a special Waste Management and Recycling Campaign- on 8th September, 2015 across 54 garbage disposal sites in South Delhi.
Considering that the layman is now desensitised to images of overflowing landfills, dirty river banks and random garbage dumps on roads, the campaign designed by Gupta addresses the problem with a creative twist, inspired by the dump yard in a park she visits almost daily. You decide if it works:
Shock tactics aside, also being launched as a part of the campaign is http://recycleyourwaste.in/, a webportal that promises to be the one stop directory for all Delhi based waste management solutions. Akshat Ghiya, Co-founder & Director, Karma Recycling says, “We dispose mountains of solid and electronic waste daily as a nation with little thought of what it’s doing to our precious natural resources or to the environment. We wanted people to think about waste, and what our cities may look like if we’re not responsible with its collection and treatment. What better way to do it than through art and Bollywood imagery! If people could love their cities as much as they love their movies, choosing to segregate, reuse, and recycle their paper, plastic, and electronic waste etc, we’ll leave a cleaner world behind for the next generation”.
With a tagline that says ‘what goes around, comes around’, both http://recycleyourwaste.in/ and Shaily Gupta’s Bollywood poster campaign serve to remind the masses of our massive waste disposal problem, while also pointing to the solution.