This is a story of hope. Of reclaiming a glorious city that had lost its beauty to the plastic curse. Of standing your ground and sticking your neck out for what you believe. Of collective, affirmative action. Of the power of the people that start from you and me.
This story begins with the horrendous image of a beautiful city choking on its own garbage and ends with the reclamation of that same city by its loving citizens and thought leaders, who take on the plastic monster by its horns.
A couple of months ago, it seemed like Bangalore city was on its death throes, choking under tons and tons of non-recyclable, unsegregated garbage. The plastic bag ban was in place, but there was no implementation happening. Mindless consumerism was spawning more and more single-use disposables, which in the absence of any destination, was stagnating in drains and roadsides, or worse, being burnt, releasing harmful dioxins and impacting the health of citizens everywhere. The citizen volunteers who had been working tirelessly to clean up the city, had all but lost hope when she appeared.
Superwoman cape firmly in place, a smile on her lips and ever ready for affirmative action, Dr Sandhya, Yelahanka Health Officer showed us what wonders a committed officer can do.
Dr Sandhya quickly realised what citizen volunteers had been saying all the while. There was just too much low value waste—one time disposables and cheap plastic bags—being generated. There was no destination for these and burning them would create a health hazard, so the only way forward was to stop it at its source. Working with local green crusuaders like Sarada, corporator Manjunath, RWA president Allen, SWMRT members Shanthi, Malini and Smita as knowledge partners, and ably backed up by her boss, JC Sarfaraz Khan, Sandhya launched the battle against single-use plastic in Ward 7, Coffee Board layout, Yelahanka in December 2015.
She didn’t know it then, but this was the historic moment that saw a revolution of sorts take off across the city. As news of the good initiative spread, citizens came forward asking to replicate the same in their areas and within a matter of two months, half a dozen more wards had become plastic free. We are hoping to see many more citizens from across Bangalore come forward to shed the plastic and bring the green back into their lives, to fight for the clean, unpolluted air and neighbourhood that is their right.
Here are some ready reckoners for citizen volunteers
Get involved, understand the ban, inform yourself on items that are banned and their eco friendly alternatives.
Work with the system. Identify the health officers in your ward and offer your support in implementation. The city is too large for them to tackle singlehandedly.
Health officers can fine shops and communities that are currently not segregating their waste. Assist them. With the new notification, they can also fine the shops that have banned items on their shelves and seize the material. Back them up in large numbers.
Sick of the garbage mess around you? Take charge, own up responsibility. Write to us with your questions. We can help you become a changemaker.