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Waste Reduction

Working Hand in Hand for Change

The city of Karaikal, India, a giant garbage problem is threatening the ecosystem and its inhabitants. To tackle this issue, a grassroots organization is trying to alter the old ways of life.

Karaikal’s broken-down past

For a long time, Karaikal, a seaside town along the southern coast of India, was plagued by a trash crisis in its hands. Insufficient waste management system saw trash scattered throughout the landscape. This is a problem that is common in cities across India too. The pollution affects the environment and the residents who reside in the area.

“People collecting rubbish in plastic bags and throwing them wherever they go was common. The rubbish got carried by the winds, and garbage was found everywhere,” says the local citizen K. Mala. The trash that needs to be correctly collected and dealt with can cause environmental problems. Seawater litter could disintegrate into microplastics and impact marine life. The non-biodegradable waste that is disposed of can affect a community’s water supply.

“Garbage gets accumulated in one place, and when the pile gets big, they burn it. The smoke that emanates from this pile-up is harmful to health,” Mala says. Mala.

“Recycle for Life” with the Green Friends

This was the reason that drove Hand in Hand India (HiH India), an Indian nonprofit organization that advocates sustainable development. Its goal is to work with the people of Karaikal to change their attitudes, causing behavioral changes regarding their waste management practices.

“Smaller cities like Karaikal have no infrastructure for the treatment of the solid waste. In addition, due to a lack of awareness among the residents and the public, it has created an enormous environmental issue,” according to Amuda Shekharan of HIHI.

“As every household is generating rubbish, the success of any waste management program would depend on the behavioural and mindset change in the community.”

In November of this year, HiH India implemented a waste management program dubbed ” Recycle for Life” It aims to maximize waste recycling through recycling, composting, and reuse. This reduces how much waste is disposed of and thrown into landfills and requires demolition to be separated from the beginning, ensuring organic waste, such as food scraps, are not thrown into the same bin with recyclables, such as plastic bottles.

One of the main pillars in this model system is the Green Friends initiative, which is a way to recruit and train sanitation workers involved in the transport, collection, and treatment of municipal waste.

“As the Green Friends go to collect garbage on a daily basis, they get to build rapport with the female members of the household who are tasked with all major domestic duties such as taking out the trash,” Amuda writes.

“This has allowed the Green Friends to effectively communicate the importance of segregating their household waste, and to strengthen the changes in behaviour and mindset that they have been able to promote.”

Recycling Reduction Karaikal is the leader.

Karaikal’s efforts in recycling waste through community involvement have produced extremely positive results since 50 percent of households have opted to separate their waste beforebefore giving it to the local Green Friends teams.

“Karaikal generates about forty-one thousand kilograms of waste on a daily basis,” Amuda says, “Of the waste collected around 10% to 15% of it goes to the garbage dump. The remainder is organic waste that is converted into compost, or even materials such as metals and plastics which we recycle for recycling.”

Mala She, an active member of his community in the form of Green Friends has observed the change in this way: “Earlier people considered garbage to be garbage. However, now they are separated to be used as fertilisers and then recycled. It’s not considered just garbage anymore since it is used in numerous ways. Since it is now transported from house to house and the littering is reduced.”

Even though open burning remains the primary method for disposal across India, Karaikal is an fantastic transformation in the hope of sustainability and protection of the environment for all of India.

“The behavioural and mindset change among the community was a major factor for the success of this project,” Amuda says. Amuda, “Every individual has to make a stand for an improved future. Our children deserve an opportunity to live a better future.”

The Green Friendship program also gave Mala with a feeling of community involvement, for how the neighborhood will develop in the coming years.

“Now the people feel that the situation is much better. The waterways are clear, and garbage is removed from houses, and that’s why they don’t have issues. They appreciate our work for their protection, and now they are raving about the work we’ve done.” Mala says. Mala.

“We must maintain Karaikal as well-maintained as it is. It is my wish too.”

About Hand in Hand India (HiH India)

Hand in Hand India (HiH India) is a pan-Indian nonprofit organization established in 2002 that promotes sustainable development. HiH India works to empower women and children, improve access to healthcare, fight climate change, and create jobs.

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Jane S. King

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