Reuse Reduce Recycle. Every American grows up with this slogan. Starting from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, everybody tries to do their bit for the planet. Even though it has been years since I’ve come to live in India, I cannot accept the wastage that I see around me. Soda bottles, soda cans, and paper are thrown into the garbage heap every day. Not only are we contributing to global warming, but we’re not teaching children how to protect their environment. Call me a preacher if you may, but I don’t think it’s all that difficult to start recycling programs in the country.
Every school that I’ve been to in the United States has three kinds of bins in their classrooms or in the hallways. One for paper, one for plastic bottles and soda cans, and the other for actual trash. This ‘training’ from childhood makes sure that the children grow up into adults who put the right things into the right bin. Even in college, we had this set of bins. There were the blue, green and black bins with symbols of what should be thrown into each one. I spent my first few months in India looking for the recycle bins and just received blank stares and sometimes even a laugh.
As pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, we reduced and reused by making various things in craft class. Sometimes we made pencil stands out of milk cartons. Other times we made stuffed puppets out of old socks.
Even the grocery stores in America promote recycling. I remember my trips to the store with my parents. The first stop was the Indian spices aisle. The last stop was the recycling terminal where a friendly lady would take our big bags full of bottles and cans and paper and give us five cents for each item.
Here in Kolkata, I see people around me throwing everything into the garbage bin but there are some small ways that some people try to reuse, reduce and recycle. Every Friday, a man comes to my neighbourhood to collect our accumulated bottles and newspapers. He sells these newspapers to vendors who use them to make paper bags. For example, the bags used by the muri wala. The bottles too are usually recycled–both glass and plastic.
In America, we neighbourhood kids got together and went to every house in the area to collect their bottles and cans. Then we took these to the recycling centre nearby. Things like this should happen in India too. We have to take care of our environment and its health. So let’s do something before it’s too late.