On World Environment Day, I took up the challenge to reduce the waste that I generated daily. I wanted to do this by actively choosing to avoid plastic wrappers, straws; and asking for recyclable packaging materials. Inspired by my senior from BMS College of Engineering, who was very enthusiastic about reducing the waste he generates daily, I wanted to try it out myself and see how well I could do.
The first step was to become conscious of the things I bought and actively look for items which might contribute to plastic waste. I looked into things I usually buy and researched to see whether they would be dumped into landfills or if it could be recycled and reused. For example, I used to buy chocolates, get extra tissues at food courts, plastic straws at juice centres, and packaged food when I brought something home to devour.
When I announced to my team at Solarify about this challenge, I was encouraged to turn it into a habit.
I began by reducing the ‘Extras’ that I had unconsciously taken with the food plate. I would ask for tissues only if I needed them, and avoid ketchup packets since I already had some at home from my previous takeouts. I would avoid straws while having juice or shakes, and ask for paper straws only if I needed them. This helped me realise the carelessness of my consumption patterns.
My next step was to ask only for recyclable packaging materials for the food that I order. Aluminium, paper, cardboard boxes, paper bags, jute bags, were some of the packaging materials that I could think of when getting my food delivered. I avoided getting parcels from the restaurants which had only one type of packaging, with plastic containers and covers. But at times I have been guilty of dropping the ball when my stomach got better of me.
“I would like to call myself a Garbage Engineer, as I thought of simple ways to avoid waste and use natural materials to packaged food,” said Raaj, who is successfully running the Eat Raaja Cafe at Malleshwaram.
I have observed that many cafes and ice-cream parlours provide one-time-use spoons which are not only hard to eat with, but also causes enormous ecological damage. I have read that there are enough plastic utensils that if placed side to side, can circle the earth 300 times. So to build upon my challenge, I started researching how to overcome this problem. I came upon a new and exciting concept called “Bring Your Own Utensils (BYOU)” where sustainable enthusiasts, like myself, are bringing and reusing their cutlery, usually made from bamboo, to their workplaces and cafes.
After one month into my journey, I had made a habit of saying “No” to non-biodegradable waste and ask for replacements that can be recycled easily. I returned any ‘extras’ that I took along with me at food courts, rather than throwing it away unnecessarily. Sometimes I could not avoid those sandwiches from Hari Super Sandwich, or the Oreo Silk, that I quietly gobbled at the office, but I am satisfied with my journey so far.
I would certainly like to improve upon my consumption habits, and only buy products that can be easily refilled and recycled. Sometimes I can’t resist and fall to my urges, but as I quietly eat my chocolates, I write a note on the paper to my future self to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Written by Apoorva Shah, Solar Sales Engineer, Solarify