From the diary of a Saahasi | My special World Environment Day Celebration!

Circular economy

By - Shikhar Vats

Shikhar Vats
It always seems daunting when we start the program, but more often than not, the end is very satisfying and we go back with many heart-warming.

It always seems daunting when we start the program, but more often than not, the end is very satisfying and we go back with many heart-warming experiences!

This World Environment Day (WED) was truly special as we celebrated the handover of our program at East West Apartments, an RWA society in Gurugram. We awarded a Green Certificate to the RWA and also felicitated the housekeeping staff who are the frontline soldiers of this program. It was one of the fastest turn-arounds, in a matter of one month, the apartment went from 0% segregation to more than 90% segregation! To celebrate the occasion, we organized many activities where children and adults participated enthusiastically in Quiz and Games.

For me personally this was very satisfying as I had led the implementation of the Alag Karo campaign in East-West Apartments. Our conversations with the RWA were quick but one huge challenge was that the condo was using a chute system for their waste collection. Switching from a chute to door-to-door waste collection requires additional infrastructure of bins, trolleys etc. Door to door collection also requires additional staff which is a recurring cost. This can typically increase the maintenance bill for an apartment having 50 units by almost Rs 200 per month per household. From our experience we have seen that the chute system is the biggest hurdle for establishing Source Segregation. Whatever awareness and monitoring we do; the anonymity of the chute system encourages people to continue throwing mixed waste. In Gurugram, under the Alag Karo program itself, we have helped close down chute systems across 8 condominiums. In East West, the unwavering commitment of the resident welfare association to implement source segregation, helped overcome this crucial challenge and the chute system was closed down. After this the team went full steam to train the housekeeping staff, house-help, residents. Door to door campaigns are always the most essential part of our interventions.

The next crucial step was handling of waste downstream which included transportation, sorting and processing. People feel motivated to segregate waste when they see it getting used well. Saahas team worked with the local waste collector group to ensure that the waste was transported in a segregated manner. For this, an additional bin was placed in the collection vehicle to store wet waste separately.

As we handed over the project to the apartment community on WED, the image of this young girl will remain with me. She came for the quiz and in spite of being the youngest in the group, confidently answered many questions and stole the show! Our team was thrilled to see young kids answering tough questions on segregation and even complex issues like climate change, it was a proof that the campaign had worked! The President and many residents of the society were quite pleased with this quick turnaround, the RWA was sceptical and worried about the cost, support from the residents, housekeeping staff capacity etc. Comprehensive training sessions that elaborated not just on what and how but also why helped change the attitude of residents and house keeping staff.

Signing off with another successful implementation under the Alag Karo program!