A Day in the Life of a Waste Picker

The waste management process of a city is a summation of many different factors. E-waste management, composting, landfill sites etc. are the ones which are being talked about the most. However, we mostly forget about one of the key factors of this process, i.e. the waste pickers. They form a very important and inevitable part of the whole process of waste management.

Girija Kasbe, a waste picker working in Dhankawadi, Pune is a member of SWaCH.  She not only collects the segregated waste from every house, but also encourages and makes people aware about the importance of segregated garbage. “Every individual of Pune should be aware about the harmful effects of mixed waste. The real change begins when people themselves start segregating waste at source”, says Kasbe. Let’s have an insight into Kasbe’s work of collecting garbage in a segregated form:

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Kasbe, along with her waste collection vehicle begins her work at 6:00am every morning. “Every woman should become independent regardless of her day to day hardships in life because it is the only way to bring a change in the society,” says Kasbe. Waste pickers are probably one of those people who don’t have holidays. Can you imagine how must be the life of a waste picker?

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Everyday Kasbe collects segregated garbage from 600 houses. Kasbe strictly doesn’t accept mixed waste from any house or individual. While performing her job to the mark, she never fails to encourage them to segregate the waste. Kasbe tells this in an effective way by which the people of Dhankawadi have started understanding the harmful effects of the mixed waste. And now, almost everyone has started giving away their household waste in a segregated form.

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There is a total collection of 720 Kgs of wet waste and 100 Kgs of dry waste every day in her area. Kasbe has 8 buckets to collect this amount of waste. Each bucket has the capacity of 90 Kgs. Are you aware that the waste pickers are not paid by any governmental or non-governmental organizations? They are dependent on the wages that the citizens pay them.

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Kasbe segregates the waste with her hands when it is brought to a feeder point. It is the point where all the wet waste is again segregated into different buckets for its safe transportation. “As a waste picker, one has to work very hard. But it is a kind of a work that contributes to a social change and helps in the creation of a sustainable future”, says Kasbe.  Many of us cannot withstand the smell of garbage, but a waste picker is always surrounded by it.  Their health also gets affected due to the consistent contact with the odor.

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Kasbe’s dedication towards her work can be a source of motivation for every Punekar. “I encourage all the Punekars to participate in waste management activities and start segregating waste at source. Because a garbage free city promises a clean and healthy environment”, says Kasbe.

-Filed and Photos by Omkar Nikam.

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