New Delhi: A for ‘Always carry a water bottle’, B for ‘Bleed into a menstrual cup’, C for ‘Compost kitchen waste’…. H for ‘Heal naturally’….T for ‘Turn the tap off’…..and Z for ‘Zip in travel essentials and reduce your travelling waste’. All the 26 alphabets, which one learns in kindergarden, have been given a Swachh twist by a 38-year old Delhiite. A Graphic Designer by profession, Pooja Dhingra bothered by the way waste is managed in her colony decided to spread awareness on the issue in a creative way.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan fails for me right outside my colony, with an entire family of waste pickers living, eating, sleeping behind three big containers of overflowing trash that our colony generates. These waste pickers collect and segregate our waste with bare hands. Their plight was the triggering point, says Pooja.
Pooja’s waste management journey started two years back when she decided to first cut down her own waste generation. From carrying her own water bottle everywhere, switching to cloth pads, composting to waste segregating her household waste were some of the measures she implemented in her day-to-day life. Switching to an eco-friendly lifestyle was quite a challenge in the initial stages.
Initially I used to feel shy in asking the restaurant staff to pack my leftover food in my own tiffin box. Infact, even now I do but I am trying to overcome it inorder to cut down on plastic and food waste. Even after two years, I cannot say that I have abandoned plastic items completely. However, I am trying to utilise as much scrap as I can. The idea here is to not send non-biodegradable products to the landfill, she adds.
In July this year, Pooja began her waste management series ‘Cut the Crap’ and in less than five months, she graphically illustrated every alphabet having one component each of ‘recycle, reuse and reduce’. Every visual form of the alphabet also gives out facts and figures related to waste. For example letter ‘C’ says, “60% of waste in every house can be converted into treasure by the simple act of segregation.”
She has made her work digitally available for free for reaching out to as many citizens as possible.
The A-Z guide on waste management is free and will remain in public domain forever. You can share, save, circulate, take screenshots, make a screensaver, do anything but please try and use it to make changes in your lifestyle. Please don’t PRINT it and create more waste! To maximixe its reach and impact, I am open to all kinds of ideas, suggestions, collaborations, discussions, and measures…be it creating a library of things which is a big thing abroad, taking it to schools, communities, creating a databank of resources…absolutely anything, says Pooja.
Here are 26 simple steps dedicated to 26 alphabets that she has designed and something you can definitely imbibe in your life:
“As far as my efforts are concerned, I am not there yet. I am just doing 19 out of the 26 things proposed but I am trying every single day. I also don’t plan to have a wasteful wedding or dye my greying hair, these things are not in the series but are on my list,” says this determined Swachh warrior.
Her future plans include coming up with an activity book for children to teach them how to grow their own food. Of the 26 alphabets she has successfully integrated 19 of them in her lifestyle and is in the process to covering all 26.