Back in 2014, I saw a post about the “Zero Waste Movement”. A girl had managed to fit all of her trash in a Jar. Two whole years of trash!
It sounded like something I would want to do, but – I didn’t do much about it or change my life in any way. Zero waste seemed like such a far away concept – something I couldn’t quite achieve. Some time last year something registered and I decided to make a change. What made me change? Okay, so, Imagine a beach, the high tide line is basically trash. Rewind 4 or 5 years. Imagine a beach, only 4 hours from Mumbai with clear blue water and white sand. Yup, you would be pissed too. Over the years the garbage problem got worse. The tree line joined the high tide line, and the village’s dumping ground joined the party. So, as you can see, my reasons were completely selfish. Well, at first at least.
The trash bugged, seriously bugged me. This pretty beach wasn’t exactly “pristine” anymore, had been ruined. So after a bunch of whining, I decided to clean it up. With a rake and a garbage bag, I started cleaning up this mess. I was pissed, people had thrown trash just about everywhere and it was impossible to get to all of it. This went on for a while. Maybe for a year I would clean up the patch right besides the beach. We thought about adding trash cans, about asking the village to create a dumping ground (somewhere else), and went as far as scowling at the rest of the villagers throwing their trash at the edge of the village (right outside our family home). Till one day I walked into a bush and found something which looked all too familiar: a wrapper that once contained burger from McDonalds, empty paper cup with plastic cap and straw in tow.
Oh crap, that was probably mine. Nope, it was definitely mine. I picked it up and added it to one of my piles. Covered in dust and sweat I stood there staring at my neat piles wondering what I was going to do with all this. All the old water bottles, empty quarters of cheap liquor, old chappals, bags in which there once was oil or milk and of course – remnants of my lunch at Mcdonalds.
That’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t just about cleaning up. For so long things had been about sweeping the problem under the rug. It had never occured to me that cleaning up wasn’t the solution. The solution is to create less trash and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do.
Since then I’ve learned A LOT more about the problem with trash and my motivations have changed, but more on that later.