Cycling On Recycling Path

By now, many of you would have completed all festivities. So let me ask you – what happens before and after a festival? How do you celebrate? Spring cleaning, decorating the house with flowers and festoons, lights lit, prayer rooms set. Let’s not forget the fun and food – playing cards on deck and eating yummy delicious sweets and savouries crafted by your mother or family. Finally, how can we forget the holiday shopping for gifts – for family, friends, and self?

As the holiday season approaches, you begin sorting and clearing undesirable items from the house. In Hindi (Indian language), there is a word called ‘kabaadi‘ (old things like plastic containers, vessels, books, newspapers, clothes, and even appliances). Now a few kabaadiwalas, people who help dispose of kabaadi for us are just a call away. They help a lot in sorting and clearing unwanted stuff too.

Since the digital age set in, websites and apps have been assisting in disposing of or selling used goods (in good and bad condition) at reduced prices or clear them from our premises for free. Unfortunately, things that are in highly damaged condition are discarded in trash bins. And then there is a bag of those things you do not wish to throw (painstakingly bought during an exhibition/sale) but must dispose of. But the good news for folks like me and you who refuse to let go of old things is that you can recycle them too. In India, if desired, we can recycle anything. These days no one is disposing of anything that fast. A path in home deco is in trend. You can evolve into an interior decorator. All you need is a practical aesthetic sense with the right combinations of colour palettes and design intent. Voila! You can revamp your house! “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Save” is the mantra these days. We call it “viral” and “trendy” in digital language. 

Recycling is a simple process of altering scrap into reusable material. Simply, it is gathering old things and giving them a new look or repurposing them for other use. It is suitable for accomplishing better environmental goals as well. For instance, recycling non-biodegradable things can be given a new look instead of disposing of them in waste containers. These things will take a million years to break down and decompose into the soil and may even damage the ecosystem if they get absorbed in water or soil. So why not give them a new look? Get creative!

India is a country of innovation. Almost every other house converts old things to new or makes an alternative to old things. Whenever I visit old friends and relatives’ homes during celebrations, I would often admire the décor and interiors. Once during a visit, I adored the curtains in a house. When asked, I was told it was designed by stitching old dupattas(shawls) together to make unique curtains! How simple and how resourceful was that!

Still remember the metallic shoe shelf (made of iron and painted) kept outside my house. A cloth was placed over the rack to shield the metal, stringing old greeting cards and wedding invitation cards (all sent by friends and family members over the years!) like a necklace. Colourful cards transformed the look of a plain-looking stand. We can reuse and recycle clothes, furniture, old photo frames, plastic and glass bottles, vessels in the kitchen, old plant pots, soft toys, and children’s toys. 

These days, mega brands sell recycled products. So look for those, buy recycled products, and collaborate with them to support the cause. Products like shopping bags and handbags made from old pieces of cloth, newspapers turned into table mats, earrings made from old plastic and wooden beads, money pouches and satchels made from old hosiery leggings, fancy paper bags embellished from old gold threads – you name it, and they sell it all!

We have to ensure the next generation comprehends to innovate and give a twist to old items. Schools and educational institutions are already doing it with their “Eco Clubs.” Mother Earth has given us so much. Time to give back to her! Non-biodegradable items are a challenge these days, especially e-waste. So why not find a way to give a new face to them? Take plastic pots, paint them and hang them on your balcony or gardens. Broad plastic containers can double up as planters. This will ensure the earth isn’t polluted! Utilize existing items instead of buying more. In this way, you are minimizing personal expenditure too. Try and recycle existing resources, and lower contamination too. Products packaged in recycled boxes also make a difference to the environment. 

Regular cleaning drives will ensure adequate waste segregation in societies. Sorting biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste reduces pollution, landfills, and water bodies. Apartments, offices, and independent houses must participate more actively in waste drives. 

Recycling also ensures that lesser waste is burnt. This means reduced air pollution too. Many people burn waste, thinking it will reduce the garbage around. But it simply adds to breathing and other health issues among people. If people find eco-friendly ways to convert waste or unwanted things at home, it will go a long way in preserving our planet. 

Why not donate old items to recycling centers? Charity begins at home, they say. So why not give away things you don’t need – old toys, clothes, machinery, appliances, and furniture?  

It takes 450 years for plastic to break down. So why wait for the earth to crumple? Instead, let’s take a pledge to detoxify our beloved planet. Instead of throwing plastic into waste bins, why not reuse it to reduce pollution? And why not recycle them for other purposes? 

Follow Priya Rajendran

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