How many of you have seen paan stains on the walls of your building but choose to ignore it? When you see peels of fruits thrown around your apartment complex you simply mutter some curses in your mind and walk away. When do you stop ignoring these acts? The answer lies here, you go ahead and take action like complain to the watchman or the cleaning staff when a chewing gum is stuck on the bench you sit every day in your building or you find liquid waste on the top of your car. You obviously would react now because it affects you directly. It is high time, we started considering not just our homes but also our apartment complexes as our property.
Taking a leaf out of our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s “Swachch Bharat” campaign, the Swachch Society, Swachch Bharat Movement aims at educating those who live in apartment complexes on how to maintain cleanliness in their vicinities. A clean environment not only has health benefits but also makes your home a better place to live in.
Picture Courtesy: Pratik Khandelwal, Royal Legend. Entry from “View from Top” Photo Contest.
Here are 10 simple ways in which you can contribute substantially to the Swachh Bharat dream, starting right from your apartment complex:
- Waste segregation into dry and wet waste
This is in fact a law in most cities. If you are in Bangalore, it is possible your Apartment Complex is already practicing it. If you are in Mumbai, Pune or other cities, it is possible, that your garbage collection team is doing this manually – yes, they are actually going through your garbage, and segregating it into wet and dry before the garbage truck picks it up..
Save them from this not-such-fun work, and segregate right at home – it is just a second’s thought before throwing the waste in your kitchen bin. Keep two bins in your kitchen – one for dry, one for wet.
Segregating at source is the most efficient way and the first step in sustainable Waste Management. This is vital as dry waste can be recycled. It includes paper, plastic, wood, metal, glass, etc which can be reused in multiple ways. As far as wet waste is concerned, it can be composted easily when separate from oxygen blockers like plastic. This compost becomes highly valuable soil enrichment.
- Know where to throw garbage
Every household maintains an individual dustbin but where does the waste from those dustbins go? It is vital for apartment complexes to have dedicated garbage bins in common areas. These should be in easy proximity for all members.
Ensure the House Help and Children know very well where garbage has to be thrown.
- Liquid waste alert
This is a common problem in almost all apartments. Liquid waste like leftover daal, spoilt milk, etc are directly dumped into the garbage bins without giving a second thought.
Now you would not want your apartment complex to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and insects, would you? Thus stop dumping liquid waste directly into your dustbins. Drain all liquid waste in your kitchen or bathroom sink, before disposing into the garbage bins.
- Pet menace
There always is this one pet in your apartment complex whose bowel movements smoothen as soon as he/she is down for a stroll with its owner. Also, there is the old benevolent uncle who loves to feed birds every morning. So every time you step out to go to work, you have to navigate in between bird waste and food litter. When you return from work, you hop, skip and jump to save yourself from animal waste.
To save every member from this daily exercise, it is important to lay down rules that create designated areas for feeding birds or strays, and ensuring every pet owner picks up after their pets. Quite like one would clean up after their babies.
- Know how to dump your waste
While wanting to be hygienic we end up using a plastic bag every day to dump our waste. We find it very unhygienic to even dispose off kitchen waste without putting it into the common garbage bin.
This is indeed needed, when mixed waste is being collected.
But if you are segregating your waste into wet and dry, it can very well be directly deposited into the common bin, as the common bins are also having only one type of waste.
At the most you can line your wet waste bin at home, with a newspaper and empty your house bin into the garbage collection bin, along with the newspaper. Wash the bin, and line with another paper! Voila! You just single-handedly eliminated 13,000 plastic bags hitting the ocean (we are assuming you will live for at least 40 more years)!
- Emergency exits are not your storage areas
Many apartment complexes use emergency exit corridors as storage sections. You would find a maintenance ladder, a bunch of cartons, etc lying in these areas.
So when you actually have an emergency like a fire or an earthquake be prepared to bring out your high jumping skills and keep a parachute ready.
If not that, then clear all the junk from your emergency exits and dump the same in the store room.
- Make trees your best friends
We learnt in school that trees provide oxygen. Breathing fresh, pollution free oxygen would not only benefit your health but it is also good to have fresh air around. You commute in pollution laden roads every day, your body can really use some fresh air.
Plant as many trees as possible in your apartment complex and ensure they are taken care of.
- Prepare for the rain day
Apartment complexes need to be geared up well in advance for the rainy season. Water logging is a grave problem, which is caused mainly due to clogged drains or improper water disposal systems. Again, the threat of your vicinity turning into a mosquito breeding ground looms large due to this.
For this, you must ensure that all the drains in your apartment complex are debris free. Any mud, cement, etc that slows the water flow or puts a halt to it, should be fixed.
- Celebrate festivals prudently
Festivals bring people together and in the process these people together tend to spoil the ecosystem unknowingly. So your apartment complex is throwing a Diwali bash. You went there, burst some crackers, ate some yummy food and had a gala time. Did you look behind at the mess all of this made? Empty cartons, pile of plastic plates, cups and water bottles. Yes they are perhaps stacked in dustbins, which is good. But then, that’s a lot of plastic hitting our oceans!
To avoid this, urge your cultural committee to use either Areca Leaf plates which are decomposable, or Steel plates which are washed after use. For water, use that water dispenser with a steel cup next to it. People who are not comfortable with using a public use cup, can bring their own bottles.
- Educate and persuade
Lastly, it is important to conduct workshops and seminars about clean and green environment, waste management, rain water harvesting and so on. Call guests speakers/experts or identify well learned ones amongst yourselves and have them speak about these issues. Even if your message is sent out clearly to one family member, the purpose is fulfilled. The best way to put this forth is identify days like Republic Day or Independence Day wherein your apartment complex holds some function and that could be followed by an educational session.
Bonus Tip: In your Society Meetings, use cleaned Wine Bottles for dispensing Water.. They are uber chic and uber eco-friendly, and convey your message in a ‘heady’ way 🙂
We used it in one of our workshops which had a State Minister attending!: http://apartmentadda.com/blog/2014/06/25/banish-water-insecurity-workshop-on-21-june/
Several apartment complexes like Diamond District, have already taken steps towards keeping their apartment complexes Swachh. So get up and start practicing the above for a Swachh Society, Swachh Bharat. Do let us know your thoughts below. Tweet your society initiatives with the hashtag #SwaSoSwaBha, we will retweet and your society could set a great example that’s covered in media as well!