Sustainable decentralised waste management

This article about the Solid and Liquid Resource Management (SLRM) model of waste management has been published on Citizen Matters, Mumbai. In two parts, it can be read on these two links:
> Let’s not waste ‘waste’: In pursuit of the ideal waste management solution
> COVID-19 lockdown: how waste segregation methods derailed in one Mumbai township

Image source:
Continue reading

Upcycling socks: Sock quilt

All of us have been in the situation of hunting for a missing sock. I for one do not feel at peace until I have searched everywhere – the washing machine, the laundry bin, the clothes line and the cupboards – until my socks are reunited. Given that I am not always successful, you can imagine that I must be quite a disturbed soul – once every month at least, if research findings are to go by!

A study by Samsung in 2016 (you can read the details here) reveals that “we each lose an average of 1.3 socks per month – accounting for more than 15 socks per year and 1,264 over a lifetime”. Though this study was done in Britain, it could well apply to any country where people wear socks.

So what does one do with the single socks?

Continue reading

Waste Management Diaries – 3 (Clothes)

“I’ve always thought of myself as someone who cares about the environment. I’ve recycled for as long as I can remember, I’m on my way to having a plastic-free kitchen and I always try to take public transport instead of driving. But until last year I was guilty of unknowingly contributing to 1m tonnes of waste a year, more carbon emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined, and microplastics ending up in the ocean – just by buying new clothes.” – Radhika Sanghani, writer (Read the article here.)

Clothes. We get, we use, and then we give or throw away.

Give or throw away could happen for many reasons such as…
– the article no longer fits (we have grown)
– the article is not fit to be worn by us anymore (faded, stained, worn-out, torn, broken buckle, etc.)
– we do not use it (it was bought on impulse or an undesired gift)
– we do not have space to keep it (we have more than we need)
– we are just bored with it (we’ve worn it a few times already).

Our society receives a variety of personal clothes on a daily basis. Some are deposited in the collection bins kept for the purpose, some are left by residents outside their doors along with the dry waste, and some are picked up from miscellaneous locations (most likely left by helpers who took the things given by their bosses but actually did not want them).

Continue reading

Waste Management Diaries – 2 (Plastic bags/ wrapping)

When we talk of plastic, what comes to mind? Quite likely a plastic bag. 

Plastic carry bags are banned in Mumbai. Even then, plastic bags and other plastic wrapping continue to play a major role in our lives.

  • Food stuff – bread, biscuits, chips, toffees, cereal, rice, dhals, sauce packets, packaged vegetables, dosa batter, milk packets …
  • Household supplies – toothbrushes, detergent powders, shampoo sachets …
  • Bubble wrap, medicine blister packs, gift wrapping, clothes packaging …


These and much more, all contribute to the plastic bag/ wrapper waste we are generating on a daily basis.      Continue reading

WPXX Waste Management Diaries – 1 (Tetra Paks)

Waste Management. This is a hot topic at Whispering Palms Xxclusives CHS, Kandivali East, Mumbai (WPXX),  these days, and one would not be wrong in attributing this majorly to the society’s composting efforts.

While interacting with residents over the past several weeks it has been most fulfilling to note that there are many who are aware that we are responsible for the mess we have created in our country and we have to try to set things right. There are many though, who still feel that they have no role to play, oblivious of the gravity of the waste situation, some relying on their good fortune to buy them out if the need arises.

The society was pushed to start managing its waste in an organised manner, through segregation at source, by MCGM’s 2017 notification. All credit to the MC and members of WPXX for taking strong steps to ensure compliance. In November 2017, we formed an informal team of waste management volunteers comprising of residents who felt they had the time and the inclination to implement the waste segregation guidelines developed for the society. It is this group that laid the foundation of the solid waste management system we have in place.

Continue reading

Mumbai plastic ban

“I have cleared my house of all the plastic bags. I cannot afford to pay Rs 5,000 as fine.”

“Madam, they are saying that they will come to check our houses to see if we have plastic. Do you think they will come?”

“Everyone on the road is carrying cloth bags today. Who wants to pay fine? ”

“Vegetable vendors are telling us to go home and bring a bag. None of them have plastic bags.”

“Will it be alright to carry this water bottle? I won’t be caught and fined, right?”

The Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018 that imposes a ban on several disposable items (wef 23rd June 2018) would appear extreme, but citizens in general seem to be quite serious about following the rules. Unlike earlier times, consumers are being held liable for abuse of plastic/disposables, and the penalties for non-compliance are steep.

Continue reading

Terrace composting

It has been a few years, more than five actually, since we tried composting on the terrace at Brigade Millennium Mayflower Block. Though this very successful pilot experiment has been written about here, I realised that the process has not been properly documented, so here goes!

The objective was to reduce the waste that went out of the 250-flat apartment block. The solution for wet waste was quite obvious, on-site composting.

Those of us from the apartment block who got involved with the project did quite a bit of research to arrive at a sensible, scalable model keeping in mind the existing infrastructure and constraints in the block. We visited a few working sites, read about various methods and engaged with waste management experts and service providers. With the help and guidance of Mr C. Srinivasan, a member of the Supreme Court of India’s Committee on Solid Waste Management, we decided on a method that overcame the lack of space on the ground. The terrace on the 15th floor was identified as a suitable location. Apart from a trolley that was specifically designed for the purpose, the method uses only natural resources – air, water, sunshine, manpower and bacteria present in cowdung/curd.

The trolley
4 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft. Fabricated with metal flats. Fitted with wheels for portability. Cost in 2010 – approx Rs 4,500.

1 trolley Continue reading

A Large Scale Composting Model

When segregating the wet waste from the dry becomes a habit (to the extent that soiled boxes, plastic packets and tetra packs also are cleaned/ rinsed and dried before going into the dry bin), it becomes difficult put all the waste into one dustbin, while visiting hotels and other homes. Often I’m tempted to carry my trash back to ensure it is handled appropriately. During a recent visit to Pune though, there was no such temptation. The friends we visited live in a large apartment complex called Camellia on the Baner-Pashan Link Road (about 300 apartments), and here segregation of the household waste at source is mandatory. Continue reading