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Kathmandu isn’t dirty, we are!

Do you think for a moment before you spit that chewing gum on the road? Do you hold on to that scrap paper looking for a trashcan or stuff it into your jeans pocket instead of just tossing it and letting the wind blow it away? We are all guilty of littering our streets.

Just recently, I was returning home from work when I saw a couple stop their scooter and toss a large white polythene bag by an electrical pole on the roadside. I asked them what they were doing and they told me to mind my own business. I told them I was because they were littering my city and making it filthy. The man riding the scooter had the decency to look a little abashed but the woman, riding pillion, started talking about how “everybody does it”.

I was about to tell her that just because everybody does it doesn’t make it right but I knew this point would be lost on her so I kept mum. What she said made me realize that this is the mindset that has been so detrimental for our society’s upkeep. One person does it and the rest just follow. This explains the piles of garbage that pop up as if by magic at random place throughout the city when the trash collection vehicles don’t operate for week or so. The street is where all the trash gets dumped.

And it takes one person to toss a plastic bag of household waste on the street for everyone to mentally designate that place as the ‘rubbish site’ and come, often in their bikes and cars, to dispose their trash there. Bikers stop and swing multiple bags of garbage across the road. Windows, of fancy cars, being rolled down to send big bags flying in the air is all too common as well.

What amuses and angers me in equal measure is that despite being a part of the problem, we have the audacity to blame the city. I often hear people talk about how Kathmandu is getting dirtier by the day and then, in the same breath, ask where they can dump their trash now that there’s a protest going on at the state allocated dumping site.

Not many people realize that litter not only makes a place looks bad but it’s detrimental to both the environment and our health as well. Improper disposal of hazardous wastes can result in release of toxins, ecosystem imbalance, human health issues and environmental degradation.

It’s not uncommon for smokers to toss a cigarette butt out of the car window. It’s perhaps the easiest and simplest way to dispose it so most people don’t bother to look for ashtrays or trash bins. Most people think that a tiny piece of cigarette butt can easily be disposed of and will wither in no time on the streets. But cigarette butts are actually made of cellulose acetate that could take more than 10 years to disintegrate.

But most of us are only concerned with our homes and immediate surroundings and as long as the garbage leaves our front door or isn’t lying around in the car or our bags, we couldn’t be bothered with where it ends up. But what about the air we breathe and the plants we eat that invariably grow on soil that has been contaminated by our own actions?

The waste management system in the city sucks. I know. But does that mean we have the right to get rid of household waste in any way that’s convenient to us? What about composting our kitchen waste in our own homes and only throwing away what can’t be reused or recycled and thus lessening the amount of trash we produce? Have we thought about that?

Most of us just blame the system and the government for our city’s woes. But we never take a step to correct our own wrongdoings. We expect everything to be taken care of for us and when things aren’t, we crib and complain instead of finding innovative solutions to our problems.

If a clean city is what we aspire for, we can start by generating less trash in our own homes and being mindful of how we dispose it. We could and should speak up when we see someone toss things on the road. Chances are that when they are called out on their actions time and again, they will eventually stop. It’s about taking matters into your own hands to bring about the change you want to see.

Composting, I have come to realize, significantly lessens the waste you produce in your home on a daily basis. By simply putting all the wet waste in a large bin or a pit dug up in your backyard you can make a really great fertilizer for your plants as well as greatly reduce the amount of waste coming out of your home. It’s time to start doing whatever little you can to keep your city clean.


source : myrepublica.nagariknetwork

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