Did anyone read the books I wrote about last week? Write in if you have. Bangalore’s streets continue to be filled with garbage because of the closure of some landfills. I must say that if I lived near a landfill, I would want it closed too. It makes me wonder why we have not yet been able to effectively manage waste. Reading these books made me think carefully before I threw things away. I also wanted to know if there were more books that were written about garbage, so I did a bit of research and was delighted to find that there are plenty.
The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird, one such book, is set in Ethiopia and is about Mamo and his friends. Mamo finds a use for things that people have thrown away and for him they become treasures. Those who may have read it, share your opinion of it and those who intend to, perhaps we can read this book together and have a discussion?
I am happy that there are books of fiction that address not just the problem of waste but also talk about the people whose livelihoods are dependent on it. Who knows what use will be found for my broken hairbrush and other rubbish I throw away without a thought? What about the lives of the homeless for whom garbage is a source of income? What risks do they face every day? The risk of serious infection? The reality of not finding anything useful which means not being able to get a meal? This must be obvious to anyone who walks down Church Street in Bangalore. On one side of it is a pile of rotting garbage that is sifted through by street children in search of food and finds; on the other side there are posh restaurants where people, including me, go in for an expensive meal.
Disparity is a fact of our society, but this does not mean that there is no hope. Rag pickers, street children and homeless people do not need pity. It is for each individual to be more careful about the waste they generate. Remember, managing garbage is a global problem. Some methods used in countries work, some do more harm than good. Our country does not seem to have any plan that is effective enough. That is why it will be wonderful to have new ideas. In no time at all you will be adults living in cities that will generate much more waste than what you see today. Maybe yours will be the idea that will prevent our planet from becoming a huge landfill.
(Yasmine Claire teaches high school students and attempts to write twisted-inside-out fairy tales. Write in to email@example.com)