It has been a long while after the last post here and I have good reasons.
Almost all of my “side-projects” bandwidth was consumed by much needed voluntary service in managing my apartment complex. I, a long time resident who has been a lurker and a free-rider of sorts, was pulled into the apartment committee in May’16 owing to a crisis situation. This is a story of a small victory that I orchestrated shortly afterwords, in the middle of last year i.e June-July 2016. I’ve been feeling compelled to write this story but other priorities got the better of me. It’s about time now; so here goes.
Soon after taking over the management activities, the committee team identified certain priority areas which required immediate attention. Solid Waste Management(SWM) was one of them. Since a picture tells a thousand words, let me allow this picture do the work of explaining why SWM at our apartment was in dire straits.
This was the state of the garbage dump area in our apartment. It was an eye-sore, stinky and unhygienic as well.
The civic authority, BBMP, was on an overdrive in getting “waste segregation at source” implemented in Bangalore. They were facing lot of flak and public ire against indiscriminate dumping in landfills in the outskirts of Bangalore. Lacking sufficient tools and infrastructure, BBMP, on their desperation, were reportedly penalizing garbage collectors who were bringing in mixed waste. To avoid this, our vendor was doing the dirty work of segregating the waste our apartment was generating. Since this took hours together, the garbage collector was sluggish and presumably avoiding pick up from our apartment until “buffer overflow”. It was something like once in a fortnight and at times even once in a month. It used to take massive efforts from our end to follow up with them. It didn’t take long for us to understand that the problem can be solved if we ourselves produce segregated waste. The BBMP vendor agreed and also gave us his word that if we segregate waste properly, they will be prompt in pickup.
Prajid from our team proposed adoption of the popular 2bin1bag system to get our apartment to 100% waste segregation. This system, for those who are unaware, puts forth a set of best practices for achieving “100% waste segregation at source” using a combination of easy to remember color-coded bins, a bag and an well-designed educational pamphlet. The scheme makes it intuitive and simple that everyone gets the idea. The work 2bin1bag.in folks have done is superlative; no amount of words would do justice to express the selflessness, drive and commitment of SWM-RT and Kasa Muktha Bellandur who are behind this movement.
The awareness campaign
We mined resources available in 2bin1bag.in and and after getting a comprehensive picture of SWM using 2bin1bag, we prepared a project plan for adoption. Work was kicked off in 3 different threads. First, an awareness campaign for the community, then setting up the necessary infrastructure for the 2bin1bag process and finally training the housekeeping staff. The entire adoption plan was one calendar month in duration.
The awareness campaign was designed keeping in mind the effectiveness of repetitive communication and with a concluding “big-bash” event prior to launch. We started sticking posters in the apartment premises at strategic locations to generate curiosity and hype about the impending change. With each poster, more details were revealed. A poster making/painting competition was organized on the topic of Swacch Bharat and “100% Waste Segregation at source” for the kids of the apartment. The PM’s “Swacch Bharat” campaign helped to a large extent to provide legitimacy to the cause from the highest level and getting involvement.
As the awareness campaign progressed, we arranged for procuring the infrastructure i.e 2bin1bag kits and color coded wheeled bins after getting competitive quotes. The 2bin1bag.in website helped with a catalogue of vendors. The infrastructure arrived in good time for the launch. The vendors were professional and timely. There were no hiccups there.
Using material from 2bin1bag.in, we were also training the housekeeping staff on a sustained basis about the new system. They were unsurprisingly the most enthusiastic in adoption as they were worst affected with the current state of affairs.
The launch weekend
The launch weekend arrived. Our association president Rajiv hosted the events. The kids had lot of fun expressing their creativity with the painting and poster making event. So did the parents watching their kids participate.
We saw unprecedented excitement, enthusiasm and involvement as we started distributing the 2bin1bag kits side-by-side. The bonhomie was incredible and there were smiles and all around.
To conclude the campaign and officially launch the process, Harish from the committee team and his wife Preeti came up with an interactive game of guessing waste category for educating the residents. They came prepared with paper chits with names of different waste types and then asking audience to tell which bin each should go. The events concluded with a prize distribution for the kids and a “Green” party for all residents.
By the end of this session and as a result of the consistent messaging from the awareness campaign, waste segregation became the talk of the community. It helped in a big way. Those who were present educated ones who weren’t and the entire community learnt. For the initial couple of days, I had to walk around with the apartment supervisor and housekeeping staff to ensure that segregation is working and educating the ones who were still confused.
This was the outcome that we collectively achieved. And it thankfully remains to be this way till date. The BBMP vendor kept up his word and has been prompt ever since. The residents barring one or two have been great sport.
One of the key functions in the 2bin1bag process is the SWM Audit. The apartment supervisor should perform periodic inspections of the waste that is kept at doorsteps with the aim of penalizing residents who don’t effectively segregate. I wrote a mobile app to help the apartment supervisor and the association committee. Apart from capturing details about the violation, this app can capture photographs of the violation, store it in a local database and then upon asked, export the data into a shareable PDF file.
Due to my familiarity with web application development using AngularJS, I decided to use the Ionic framework for creating this mobile app. I have by now added in more features into this mobile app for apartment management. I call it aptYeoman. (The Apartment Yeoman)
I will remember the magical synergy and joy of this effort for a long time. I am convinced that there is nothing more satisfying and meaningful than “Nishkama Karma” towards a good cause larger than oneself.
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