Towards Zero: Reducing Waste At Home

One of the best things you can do this summer is taking the first step towards making your home zero waste (it's possible!). You can reduce the amount of garbage you throw away by over 80% in 3 simple steps: Segregate your waste, Recycle and Compost. Insider green expert Divya tells us how.

1. Segregate your waste:

Your trash is made up of three main categories:

  • Recyclable waste (paper, plastic, aluminium cans and foils, glass, tetra paks)
  • Food waste (fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, leftover cooked food)
  • Landfill waste (all other items such as sanitary waste).

The first step to reducing your waste is to separate these three different types of waste, and not mix them together in a single bin. Because once garbage is mixed, it can’t be fixed.

Over 80% of your trash is made up of Recyclable waste and Food waste, and can be recycled or composted. The remaining 20% is Landfill waste that you can reduce gradually by avoiding the use of such items.

Multiple bins for multiple types of waste!
A handy-dandy segregation chart

Things you will need: 2 dustbins and 1 bag. Discard all your food waste into 1 bin. Put all your recyclable waste into the bag. Rinse your recyclables to remove any food or oil stains, else this becomes Landfill waste. All other waste goes into the second bin that’s for Landfill waste.

2. Recycle:

Hand over your recyclable items to a local recycler or waste management NGO (Mumbai: Garbage Concern, GreenCiti, Stree Mukti Sanghatana; Bengaluru: Saahas; Pune: SWaCH; Delhi: Vatavaran; Kolkata: Tiljala Shed). Often local kabaadiwalas accept only a limited range of items such as newspaper, bottles and metals. In this case, find an organisation that can recycle a wider range of items such as tetra paks, aluminium foils and milk packets. Apart from the suggestions above, several more are just a Google search away.

Things you will need: Contact of a local recycler

3. Compost: Get a home composter to turn your food scraps into sweet-smelling compost in 30 days. There is a wide range of easy-to-use home composting solutions available in the market today starting from INR 1500 (Amazon, DailyDump, Ecobin, Smartbin Air and several other sites), or you can even chose to build a DIY one yourself. Choose a composter best suited for your home, based on the amount of food waste your family generates and the amount of space you have available for composting. As a rule of thumb, a family of 2 generates 500 grams of food waste each day.

Contrary to popular perception, composting is neither time consuming nor messy! It consumes less than 5 minutes of your time each day and does not emit any foul smell. Once your compost is ready, feed it to your plants or trees in your neighbourhood. Or gift them to a friend with a green thumb.

The Insider office composter - all our bad ideas go here

Things you will need: Composter, 3 minutes each day, patience

Now what?

Well done - you're already an eco-warrior! Once you’ve recycled or composted most of your trash, you’ll want to look at how you can reduce the waste generated in the first place. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Carry reusable bags for shopping. On an average, a plastic bag is used for less than 12 minutes, but continues to remain on our planet for hundreds of years.
  • Say no to disposable plastics such as plates, spoons and straws. These can leach chemicals into your food and are suspected carcinogens. They’re not just bad for the environment, but also bad for your health.
  • Did you know that paper cups are not recyclable because they have a layer of plastic or wax on the inside? Switch to reusable mugs instead.
  • Plan your meals better. Scan your fridge for leftovers before cooking and check your kitchen cupboards to spot any near-expiry food items.
  • Share your leftover food with your maid, security guard or anybody in need. Edible food doesn’t belong in the trash bin.
  • Consider using sustainable sanitary products such as cloth diapers, cloth sanitary pads and menstrual cups. They’re good for your health (no nasty plastics), are comfortable and also gentle on the environment.

And there you go, Planeteers!

About The Author

Divya Ravichandran set up Skrap to help change the current approach of discarding garbage which is hazardous, unsustainable and environmentally detrimental. Skrap focuses on reducing waste and diverting as much as possible for recycling or composting, so that a minimal amount of garbage is discarded in dumping grounds. Her work with Bacardi NH7 Weekender Pune helped the festival repurpose and recycle a whopping 81% of the waste generated. Get in touch with Divya to start waste management in your organization & at events: divya [at] skrap [dot] in

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