Adambakkam apartment dwellers manage waste on their own

Chennai: How can you prevent 11,500 kilos of wet waste gathered for over several months from going to the landfills? A dedicated team of women of Adambakkam shows us how it is done.

The Jains Sasvat Green Committee comprising 12 women – both working and homemakers – began campaigning to get the apartment into doing regular waste segregation.

They followed a two bin, one bag system: Waste is categorised as wet/organic waste, dry/recyclable waste, e-waste and reject waste. “There are 92 apartments in Jains Sasvat, Adambakkam,” says R Bharathi a member of the Committee, “Our main challenge was educating and creating an awareness among all our residents. Initially, we went door-to-door for three months as it was a new thing and people would naturally have difficulty accepting it. We had to make people understand the difference and why we need to do it.”

The team even made pamphlets to make the work easier. They also have house keeping staff equipped with gloves and masks with the members taking turns to volunteer. “We have specifications, such as the milk sachets need to be washed, dried and then segregated. You cannot put soiled paper expecting it to be recycled. Now, our whole apartment is doing it, and we are happy about it,” Bharathi adds.

Madhu, another member, believes it is a remarkable feat as in seven and a half months, they have churned 3,500 kg of compost out of 11,500 kilos wet waste, which they had stopped from going to landfills. The apartment has a digester for this purpose. The compost is available for sale at Rs 25 per kg and also for bulk sale.

So why did the team feel it was important to impose the system? They reveal that they are like-minded and aware of the environment. Nachal Ashok Kumar says she has been using a Khambh pot at her house. Another member, Madhura Vikram pitches in by saying, “The smell of waste from Perungdui reaches our apartment in the evenings.” So together they decided that their houses would no longer contribute to the already over-loaded landfills in the city.

“Nearly 6,000 tonnes of waste reach the landfills on a daily basis. It’s easy to pass the buck to the government, but where will they dispose the waste after a point?” asks Bharathi.

Naomi N