Field Note: Communities
A small tidbit first:
Upon arriving in India one of the very first things I noticed was the amount of garbage on the streets. I had no idea how much trash would be floating around in the drainage systems, on the roads, and in the sidewalks. I wondered why this was and why it seemed no one really paid much attention to the issue. Pollution in the city I was in, Bangalore, was apparent and is a problem that persists throughout the country.
- Are there ways or places to recycle in the local community, and if so, is it easy for people to access?
There are definitely efforts being made to try and lessen the impact of pollution and littering around the city, especially in places where there is a community of large youth. In the university where I was studying there was a recycling center where one could volunteer to recycle paper. I had a gone one afternoon to volunteer and experience what it was like to be a worker in the center. It was quite organized and everything that was meant to be recycled was being made into folders, notebooks, pens, and letter paper. I was glad to see that people were acknowledging the issue. It is quite easy for people to access the center from the college, however, I was unfamiliar with any places that promoted proper waste management outside of the university.
- What is the public sentiment about the state of the environment, and do young people think they play a role in protecting the environment? If so, how?
Bangalore was known for being one of the cleanest cities in the country but now it has been overrun with pollution. The city government acknowledges the issue but there are so many factors that prevent it from being an easily solvable problem. Originally, there was no waste management and the townspeople would have it taken away by hired truckers who’d send it out of the city—where? No one really knows. Then, after years went by it was discovered that garbage was being dumped in a landfill on the outskirts of Bangalore; once that filled up people began to dump their trash outside their homes where wandering animals would consume it. The custom of burning trash in public is also used; there are countless amount of times when I’ve seen people burning garbage near their homes and even on the sidewalk. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been implemented around town to try and gather people to help remove trash laying around the streets. Young people, like I’ve mentioned before, are very much aware of the issue and recycling seems to be a priority on school campuses. However, outside in the city it is an issue that needs better enforced laws and policing from the government.
- What innovative solutions do you observe, or hear people talking about?
I do hear people talk about having recycling bins set up all over the city, which I have seen in parks, malls, and government buildings. In grocery stores as well, there is a charge to use plastic bags—bringing your own shopping bag is highly encouraged and sold in many stores. I do see progress being made, however, near the far edges of town is where awareness and education about the issue should be spread.
- Have there been changes to environmental laws lately, or have new systems of solid waste management been introduced in the past five years?
There has been the implementation of a few laws, related to Bangalore in particular, an E-Waste law has been put into law. This regulation stipulates that businesses are financially responsible for any electronic waste that is disposed of. Measures like this are hopeful, but it is active enforcement that will keep the legislation held in place.
- Are there any youth groups, community organizations, NGO or INGOs actively working to address solid waste management issues in your community? Who are they and what are they doing. What can we learn from them? If possible, take a field trip and check out their work!
There are organizations like Greenpeace as well as NGOs around the country that are trying to address the issue of pollution and waste management in the country.
6. Work to get information and opinions from local people.
- trash cans located on public streets: Yes
- individual homes recycle trash: No
- grocery stores charge money for plastic bags: Yes
- grocery items are heavily packaged with plastic: No
- people drink tap water: No
Going to India has made me realize how much of an impact littering and carelessness can cause. If one person is unknowledgeable about the affects of improper waste management, that lack of understanding can spread. It is our duty, as citizens of our nations and the planet as a whole, to make sure that our impact on the environment is positive—for a healthier present and a better future. A lot more information on the issue of waste and pollution in India can be found with some research done on the web. The links below have really opened my eyes to the issue of waste:
- And a film about landfills in Brazil—how an artist took trash and made it into art. A very informative and inspiring documentary: