Is Being Zero-waste, a Possibility or Myth?

Can we be a zero-waste community? Do we have the mind-space to make it happen and turn it into a reality? This and more was discussed at a virtual session on zero waste at this year’s edition of ‘The Story of Mind’. Held virtually, the event featured candid conversations with 20 passionate innovators working in the field of ecology in the segment ‘The Mind of Nature’.

At the session, sustainable living champion, innovator and waste warrior Richard Dias was in conversation with Aditi Pandit, exhibition and spatial design student and Neeti Jadeja, environmental professional.

Richard believed there is a possibility that we can be a zero-waste community. Explaining the concept says Richard, “Zero-waste refers to the waste management principles focused on making waste reusable or resourceful so that none of the trash goes into landfills or other open areas.” For that to happen one needs to bring a level of consciousness and awareness about waste segregation, recycling and reuse into our mindsets.

In the name of convenience and making lifestyle easier and better, new products have been introduced, welcomed and consumed by the population. Unfortunately, with scant regard for the amount of waste which is generated in the process.

Says Aditi, ” Indians love their tea or chai. For generations Indians have been waking up to a steaming cup of chai made in our kitchens in a utensil. However in recent years we have seen so many brands making tea-bags instead. The paper used to make the bags, stapler and the thread has added tons of waste, which is so unnecessary”. The same is the case with tomato sauce sachets, explains Richard in agreement. “A few years ago, when you would go to a restaurant, they would get the samosa with a katori of sauce. Today, the katori has been replaced with sauce sachets due to hygienic concerns but there’s no evidence whether it is any less hygienic than the sauce sachets,” says Richard.

The research, documentation and legislation to support effective waste management exists explains Richard who also co-founded a waste start-up Flycatcher Technologies. “The Swachh Bharat mandate and campaign is a brilliantly laid down plan. In many ways it influenced a lot of people to clean the community, keep the environment clean and spread awareness on segregation at source. It’s the implementation that’s often a challenge”.

Despite the many challenges, Richard is optimistic that India can be a zero-waste country. “I have seen fantastic work being done across the country in pockets. There are people who are passionate about sustainability and spreading awareness among the community. In a democratic set-up there will always be voices for and against and that’s fine. What’s important is that we continue to do what’s in the best intention of the community and the future generation of the country,” says Richard.


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