New Delhi: India generates more than 1,00,000 metric tonnes of solid waste every day, which is higher than many countries’ total daily waste generation taken together. Currently, most of our landfills are bursting and overflowing with garbage and only garbage, with no relief in sight. Research shows that if we continue to dump untreated garbage at its rate, then, soon we will need a landfill of size of Bengaluru. But despite this impending crisis, India’s garbage piles continue to grow into mountains. But there are also those who want to make a difference and be agents of change.
On this International Women’s Day we take a look at the work of such five women waste warriors, who in their unique way are helping India become waste-free.
Waste Warrior No. 1: Shikha Shah, Founder Of Scarpshala
28-year-old, Shikha Shah left her job at IIT Madras, with an aim to encourage people to recycle and reduce waste load from India’s shoulder. She moved back to her hometown Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to start her startup called Scrapshala, which is today successfully recycling trash or scrap by transforming it into useful home utility products.
Till date, Shikha has recycled more than 20,000 plastic bottles and around 10,000 kilograms of waste, that otherwise would have landed to India’s overflowing landfills.
Scrapshala was started in the year 2016 and is currently dealing in two types of features – one is product based (using trash and converting it into useful decorative pieces) and second is a service based (fixing non-working items).
The startup is an online and offline venture that deals with goodies made out of trash. The items are available on more than 15 portals online, whereas offline, the company is involved with more than 200 people.
Waste warrior Shikha Shah’s message –
India needs recycling to great extent. My appeal to everyone out there is to start accepting waste items and understand the phenomena of reusing trash, because this will benefit them in future, and that’s how we all can contribute towards a Swachh India.
Waste Warrior No. 2: Samanvi Bhograj, Founder Of Visfortec Private Limited
India produces around 15,342.6 tonnes of plastic waste per day, out of which 80 per cent straight away goes into our landfills where it tends to stay for more than 100 years as earth cannot digest plastic. Samanvi Bhograj from Karnataka decided to fight the white pollution with her innovative products – cutlery made from sugarcane that can decompose within 80-90 days unlike conventional one time used plastic cutlery.
At a young age of 25, Samanvi launched her company Visfortec Private Limited and started making 100 per cent biodegradable cutlery. Today, the company is producing more than 30 lakh pieces of cutlery every month and is catering to organisations, restaurants and takeaway shops across India. The products include food containers, tableware like plates, bowls, meal trays and cups and are available online.
What’s great is that through her innovation, she is also reducing food waste as her products are made using sugarcane bagasse – the fibre obtained from sugarcane after extracting juice.
Samanvi Bhograj’s message for India is,
Once we are gone, what remains is what we have used during our lifetime. So, the choice is with us, we have to choose wisely and start living a greener and cleaner life.
Waste Warrior No. 3: Erin Zaikis, Founder Of Sundara
26-year-old, Erin Zaikis, who is from Boston came to India in order to start a soap and waste revolution. Yes, you heard it right! In 2014, Erin started Sundara, an organization that employs underprivileged women from the slum areas of Mumbai, who go and collect soap bars from hotels and process it into new bars of hygienic soap in order to provide underprivileged children a basic necessity – a soap, thereby reducing waste load of these unused bars from the landfills.
Erin Zaikis message is,
I hope more people can understand the importance of doing basic things and come forward and do their bit.
Waste Warrior No. 4: Amishi Shah, Founder Of Upcycle Co
With more than 1.8 million tonnes a year, India is today the fifth largest e-waste producing country in the world. 26-year-old, Amishi Shah, wanted to change this scenario. At the age of 19, Amishi started a social enterprise Upcycle Co in Mumbai with an aim to solve the problem of disposing of non-recyclable e-waste. Her contribution started with her organisation through which she started upcycling vinyl records, VCR tapes and CDs into quirky and useful lifestyle products.
Just in case you don’t know what Upcycling is – It is kind of a recycling process, the only difference is that it is doesn’t require any technical support.
So far, Amishi has successfully upcycled over 1,000 kilograms of waste and has sold around 4000-5000 products while saving around 1100 kgs of carbon emission. One can buy her products through the official online site as well.
Amishi’s message is,
India needs to learn how to manage waste effectively. Upcycling, as a concept has huge potential and if implemented properly it can change the waste game completely within the country.
Waste Warrior No. 5: Pooja Rai, Founder Of Anthill Creations
At a young age of 23, Pooja Rai started her journey to find solutions on how to tackle country’s growing waste along with her 4 friends from IIT. The result was an architecture company named Anthill Creations in Bengaluru that is today making playgrounds using scrap tyres.
According to the studies, globally 15 million tonnes of waste tyres are generated annually, out of which India contributes approximately one million tonnes. Anthill Creations aims to reduce the waste load from India’s landfills simply by upcycling these tyres and making playground and libraries for the children in Bengaluru.
Till now, the company has effectively completed 9 projects in 4 different cities of India, has reused 830 scrap tyres.
Pooja Rai’s signs off, by saying,
In India there is a lot of waste. We all just need to find ways of effectively treating it. It is high time we start managing the mess we have created.