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Eco-Kshatriya: An innovative approach to solid waste management

By Cheryl Venan Dias
World Tourism Organisation has declared this year’s theme as Tourism and Community Development. How is it possible to develop communities through tourism?
It is possible through education and educational institutions. While many may agree with the concept of education being used to develop tourism, they may argue about how an educational institution can be a part of tourism. This is possible because students form a bulk of the international travellers in their quest for higher education. Some efforts taken by students of MA Tourism and Heritage Management Part II (Batch 2013-15) of S S Dempo College are worth mentioning.
The students initially invested in some earthen pots using it to compost their garbage at home. From there an idea about involving local communities in managing garbage emerged, which gave birth to the group called Eco-Kshatriya. They have not only implemented garbage segregation as a part of their lifestyle but also staged a play and gave demonstrations to other college students and faculty on how to compost using pottery.
The idea is about being symbiotic in nature which helps in developing sustainable tourism generating a handshake between planet and profit. In order to thrive, tourism also needs an environment that is conducive for discerning travellers to visit.
The question is who stands to profit here; it’s both the urban and rural communities. Urban communities may have become the object of ridicule of those who feel that they produce a lot of garbage. Large garbage dump sites occupy precious real estate and are a burden on the exchequer. But this can be turned around and that very garbage can be made into a source of income for the rural potter community.
It is their handmade earthen pots than can reduce the size of the garbage landfills. It can happen only if members of every apartment invest in buying three pots from a potter.
Now it’s not possible to dump any and every kind of garbage in the pot.
The garbage needs to be biodegradable for example, vegetable peels, fruit peel, and all kinds of uncooked food including crumbled eggshells, which can decompose in a period of fifteen days to one month and can create well hydrated, well nourished compost which can easily feed your kitchen garden. The lechate that flows out of the pots is also precious and this can become a source of nourishment for your existing flower and vegetable garden.
You can grow organic vegetables right on your kitchen ledge or balcony with minimal help. Of the rest of the garbage, food waste can be fed to crows, cows, cats and strays who will be more than willing to eat it out of an earthen bowl instead of tearing open polythene bags filled with un-segregated waste. So the only waste each apartment will be generating is paper, plastic and redundant equipment and the best thing about India is that there are recyclers who want paper, cardboard and magazines and are willing to pay for it. The same goes for equipment which can be repaired and sold online. That leaves us with medical and biological waste which has to be burnt. Plastic waste can be cleaned up and used in making handicraft items or can be used to lay out tar as it is done in Bangalore. So it’s all about communities sustaining each other and not letting the art of pottery die.

(Writer is assistant professor of Tourism and Heritage Management,
S S Dempo College of Commerce and Economics)

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