My City, Delhi is home to some of the largest landfills in the world. The Ghazipur landfill is just a few metres short of the Mahal, one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Even with no concrete solutions for existing waste, there’s been a global upsurge in textile waste going into landfills. Textile waste is the third-largest source of municipal solid waste in India.
While these are statistics you may have heard often, it’s difficult to visualize what they may really mean.
For example, 25,00,000 tonnes of waste has accumulated at the Bandhwari landfill since 2008 (as of 2015).Waste picking communities living nearby climb these mountains of waste, risking disease, toxins and surface fires looking for things to sell.
They collect and segregate the waste but rarely get a fair price. There is no way to physically sort through this much waste, so it spills into nearby areas.
It also cuts off the oxygen and sunlight reaching waste underneath, resulting in anaerobic degradation - a process that is longer and more toxic. Greenhouse gases and toxins mix into the air, creating health problems such as asthma, nausea and even cancer for those living nearby.
The change in seasons brings no respite. During monsoon, landfill waste mixes with water and trickles into the soil, contaminating land and drinking water. In winter, landfill fires that last for weeks aggravate pollution.
Even over a decade, plastic and synthetic textiles that are now buried deep into the landfill have no sunlight for photodegradation, they stay there, adding to the toxic waste. The landfill, much beyond the safe limit, continues to grow.
Waste reduction and waste management is the need of the hour. So, here are 5 ways in which you can help:
1. Segregate waste based on type at your home. It becomes easier to recycle and treat.
2. Practice mindful purchasing, treat clothes as an investment to use for long, not a trend to throw in a week.
3. Check the product label before you buy something. Take time to understand the product you are buying. Avoid purchasing fabric blends as they’re difficult to recycle.
4. Avoid buying clothes that don’t fit well, are uncomfortable or not really your style. Buying a product and not using it is a tremendous waste of resources.
5. Exchange, donate, reuse or even turn it into a cleaning rag but vow to never let your clothing end up in a landfill.