Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Well a blogpost after two years of silence. It does not mean that I stopped working. After the pandemic I accelerated my work in Sri Lanka and started travelling for work. Anyway since it's Environmental month I wanted to share this story. A true story of my own. Hope you will like it!

Living with my own plastic waste in New Delhi, India for the last 6 years but life is never wasted! 

We shifted to New Delhi as a family in July 2017. Many things were so different from our normal lifestyle in Sri Lanka. Living above ground and not touching soil every day is one big change I had to get adjusted to. How can I continue not to give our waste to the municipality? How can I make my own compost? What are the methods I can adopt as a person who had been practising a zero waste lifestyle for the last 16 years in Sri Lanka. I was thinking….can I continue my good practice or not??? So, soon after we found our new apartment, my main concern was to find out the mechanism for waste management. The girl who started working for us as our helper said “Don’t worry madam ji! Waste truck comes and we can give everything in a black bag” 100 rupees per month. Nothing more, very easy”...Oops…..no…no….no…that method is not for me. I wanted to give it a try…Then I started my mission to continue my best practices while living in a first floor apartment.

I was continuing the conscious consumerism along with the 10R method that I learned from Australia many years ago (Reject, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Replace,Recycle, Rethink, Remember, Repeat). Therefore, life was easy with options available. So, many materials were forbidden by ourselves as conscious consumers (Single use bags, straws, fizzy drink bottles, etc). “Kabadi Wala” (Recycling waste pickers) are available in Delhi so the recyclable materials are not an issue at all. Then I did some online research to find out a composting method in Delhi. Luckily there were some good people who have been making their own compost in Delhi on terraces. But, I had only a balcony. So I came up with the mud-pot composter. Made some holes in the pot and started collecting wet waste on the small balcony I had.  Ok…that’s solved. Now starting the ecobricks! Oh…where can I get some plastic bottles? “Kala….how can I get some 1litre plastic bottles? Oh…madam ji, I will bring you, I have so many. Replied kala - our helper. Then I had a coconut shell spoon which I brought from Sri Lanka. So I have a long stick too. Right!!! all set to continue the zero waste lifestyle.

Next morning…when I went to see the mud composter ... .my effort was in pieces ... .a cat or somebody had dropped the pots and it's broken ... .oh…dear me! ..back to square. Ok more research for composting in balconies or terraces. Hooray!!!….I found the solution…”Sampoorna composter”. Ordered one and collected wet waste in a plastic box until I got my composter. I had to travel a very long distance to bring this composter but later on I saw how composting on terraces became very popular in Delhi and I even got another one delivered to home via Amazon. 

My composter on the first floor balcony 

Later on I found recycling options for many things like Plastics, Some Polythene materials like tetra packs and fresh milk packets (Whichever came with Recycling symbol) Glass, metal, cloths, shoes. So they all were collected and given to recyclers.   

However, making ecobricks and storing them under the bed for the last 6 years was not an issue at all. The ecobrick is made in the kitchen pantry whenever we get soft polythene. Then the next step is chucking it under the bed in the storage.  

ecobricks stored under the bed 

The 5th of June is World Environment day. Many celebrate it with nature friendly activities. I searched about the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, and it made me smile when I saw the theme #Beatplasticpollution. Oooppss…it was the theme for my whole life. All of sudden I remembered our ecobricks nicely sitting under the bed. Henry, our helper who is very good at making them as his responsibility, helped me to take them out, count and weigh them. 80 ecobricks of 1 litre disposable water bottles of 23.1kg weight. Hmmmm…which means 13 bottles per year and 1 bottle per month…oh…nooo….to much….Usually I took about 2.5 months in Sri Lanka to make one ecobrick. Anyway, I know single use plastic is very common here and very difficult to avoid. So, I was making myself feel better about not throwing them away, and giving them to the municipality. No contribution for the Great Garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Even the plastic/polythene waste we generate when we travel are trapped inside them. I will find a place to give these 80 bricks for making some structures or to be used in making roads with Tar. If all of us can manage our own single use plastic we can make #Beatplastcpollution our daily hashtag.

Plastic tags come with new dresses 

These are the items I stuff in the ecobrick 

No need to wait for a World Environmental Day to make it happen. Everyday we breathe is a World Environmental Day! 

No comments: