What rubbish!

With careful waste management, you can make your home and surroundings healthy and clean

Waste managementAs any homeowner knows, there is a ton of garbage generated each day. Unhealthy garbage handling practices cause diseases, and are also the cause of much heartburn amongst neighbours.

Let’s take a look at all this rubbish.

Garbage can be of various types.

You can facilitate proper waste management by keeping the garbage segregated than mixing all together in a heap. It helps protect the environment, as well as keep the city cleaner. Not only does it affects soil, water, and air quality, waste management practices have impacts on energy consumption too. The method of segregation depends upon the collecting agencies. The types of garbage generated commonly are as follows:-

Dry and wet

This goes simply by the definition of the words dry and wet. Papers, cloth, wood shavings and other waste fall in the dry category. Some of this can be reused and is removed before destruction.

Wet primarily constitutes the kitchen waste. This includes vegetable peels, and garden wastes. The organic material can be used to process compost with the help of vermiculture. Also, there is no reusable material content in this category. While putting out such garbage, ensure that there is no leakage or spillage.

Combustible and non-combustible

In these methods, things that can be burned are separated from those that cannot. Toxic wastes should not be included in this. This type of segregation is done where incineration is used to manage waste. Non-combustible items include cans, CD cassettes, aluminium foils, small electric appliances, bottles, mirrors, and glasses. Combustible garbage includes kitchen scraps, rubber and leather products, garden refuse, paper trashes, and paper diaper.


This type of refuse can be reused and recycled. Hence, they should be stored separately in plastic bags for easy segregation. The categories are:

  • Glass bottles and jars of food and medicine
  • Cans of food, beverages, and ingredients
  • Plastic bottles and food packaging
  • Newspapers, magazines, cartons, cardboards and other loose papers
  • Used clothes.


These waste items may be toxic or dangerous, and may pollute the environment. Hence, they require special disposal systems. These include florescent light tubes, dry cell batteries, aerosol spray cans, gas canisters, mercury thermometers, lighters, paints, pesticides, and medicines. Ensure that the aerosol cans, lighters, and gas canisters are empty before disposing.

The garbage is usually collected manually or mechanically by agencies run by the city administration.


Recycle binThis method involves segregation of garbage and its reuse. Instead of sending all the garbage out to the landfill, some things that can be used again are removed and circulated. By this method, things that would just take years to decay in the landfill can be put to alternate use. The most popular categories are cans, cardboard cartons, glass bottles, newspapers, and plastics.


There is another wonderful way to deal with garbage. Every day our homes generate a lot of waste material that we usually throw. This goes into the landfill where the airless condition prevents the natural decomposition of the matter. This waste material, particularly kitchen waste can be gainfully utilised to produce compost for your garden instead.

Compost releases the nutrients into the soil, slowly. It is a substitute for peat that improves the soil structure and water retention. Compost can be made easily in pits in your backyard with garden and kitchen refuse.

If you do not have the space available for pits, compost piles can also be built in enclosures. Alternatively, it can be made in large bins or pots too. Apartment dwellers can keep their composting bins in the balcony or under the sink.

CompostThe ingredients for making compost can easily be generated out of the house, specially the kitchen. You can use material like leaves, weeds, and animal manure. Stuff from the kitchen like carrot tops, vegetable peels, fruit cores, tea leaves, can also be used. Tea leaves and egg shells provide minerals for plants. They decompose speedily if shredded into small pieces.

Erecting twin bins can provide an unending supply of compost. The bins have wire mesh at the back for air supply and detachable boards in the front for easy approach. In the first bin, organic material is placed in layers. Starting with garden waste at the bottom, place kitchen waste, leaves and grass in layers, alternating it with soil until the heap is 3-4 ft. Sprinkle a dusting of limestone and a pint of fertiliser over the layers. The compost heap requires moisture for decaying. Water the pile for a few minutes and cover the top with 2″ of soil to seal the heap.

It will take about 3-6 months for the compost pile to be ready for use. Water the pile from time to time to dampen it. After a month or so, keep turning over the top layer with a pitchfork. This will speed up the decomposition process. When the compost turns crumbly and dark in colour and its individual constituents lose their original form, the pile is ready. Now it can be transferred into the second bin for use in the garden. So, go ahead and use your waste in your garden and see it flourish.

Points to be considered while disposing garbage.

Each city or locality has its own garbage collection service. Follow its schedule and rules strictly for a cleaner neighbourhood. In absence of any such guidelines, here are a few rules:

  • Pack wet garbage separately after completely draining it off
  • Drain off all liquid from bottles and jars and give them a rinse before disposing
  • Empty cans and canisters of all substance and rinse well
  • Pack recyclable garbage in segregated units for easy separation
  • All the toxic garbage should be kept demarcated from the usual garbage
  • If there are items with pointed edges, [like knives, scissors, broken glass and ceramics] wrap them in thick paper to avoid injury
  • Wrap clothes separately to facilitate reuse
  • Do not put inflammable or volatile substances in the garbage bag.
Shalini Mehra
Shalini Mehra is a freelance writer based in New Delhi. Her articles have been published widely in the print as well as the web media. Subjects like health, alternative remedies and parenting are her forte.


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