Friday, 12 June 2009

The Irony At Sunfeast

Bangalore

I went as a volunteer from the IYCN, with Saahas (a Bangalore based NGO, that deals with waste management and reduction), for the Sunfeast World 10k Run, held in Bangalore, on the 31st of May, 2009. No, we didn’t go to run the race. We went instead, with the common aim of ensuring that the event was a zero-waste event.

The event was highly publicized, with The Times of India being the print media partner and Kingfisher being the ‘good times partner’. Procam was the organizer of the event. The event was held to raise money for some 60 odd NGOs in India. There were 23,000 registered participants, apart from a stifling crowd of onlookers who had come to pass their Sunday afternoon.

While everybody in Bangalore is celebrating the success of the event, allow me to enlighten you on the excuse for a waste disposal system, that the event had.

There were about four hired young boys as cleaners for the entire stadium. I was able to find only about five dustbins, after much searching.

Kingfisher water was flowing through the Kanteerva Stadium- the water, packed in handy little pocket sized bottles, was free and uninhibited. If my mother was at the event, I know she would have stuffed as many bottles as would fit in my pockets, so that she can carry the cute things in her handbag when she goes shopping. There were several people like my mother at the event, hoarding up as many of the Pet bottles as possible. If they weren’t hoarding, they were taking a sip of water or pouring it on themselves to beat the heat… and then tossing the bottles all over the place.

The volunteers from Saahas, IYCN and the MS Ramaiah Institute here, were the only ones responsible for trying to keep the event clean, and having waste recycled. The twenty of us brought about thirty of our own bins. We ensured that waste was segregated and all the Kingfisher water bottles were sent for recycling. Our collection of Pet bottles amounted to around 800 kgs (80,000 bottles). Other waste contributed 400 kgs.

With all its social motivations, a clean Bangalore, was just not on the agenda of the event’s namma Bengaluru plan. I've been told that the situation was even worse last year. We were the last to leave the stadium that day, and if not for us volunteers who cleaned up the place, the organizers of the next event to be held at the stadium, would have probably had to do so.

One may think this is a municipal issue, or an issue of the organizers of the event. One may even argue that we deprived the rag pickers who would definitely have come scavenging for waste, once the stadium had quietened down. Yes, the stadium would have been cleaned up, some how, before the next event. We didn’t need to leave our homes at 5am, to be there by 6am and finally leave the stadium only by 12pm.

But we did it, in the hopes of being able to educate this highly developed Bangalore, on the value of reducing and recycling our waste. I can promise you one thing- climate change will be a priority of the Sunfeast World 10k Run organizers (and Kingfisher, if you want to pick a bone), next year.

11 comments:

Surreptitious Shogun said...

Nice to see you care enough to ry to spread the message. One of my numerous vices, however, is impatience. I always end up throwing garbage anywhere but the dust bin. I know, I know, I really should change that.

A rare comment from me that doesn't exceed three lines, eh? Savour the moment.

Kertz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

They should SELL the bottles of water!!!

Sameera ^_^

parth said...

man, i wanted to run for this. just registered a day late.

undecided said...

i so wanted to go for this.. only one problem i registered a day late.

illusionaire said...

Respect to you! This is what each of us should do, but fail to do eventually. And we shrug it off shamelessly by saying, "This is India. This is what we do."

Why was the waste disposal system so bad in the first place anyway? That is such a shame.

kicking.and.screaming said...

@Sho
:P, yes but read illusionaire's comment.

@Sameera
No time for athletes to scramble for change. Kingfisher exploits this inability of athletes, and even comes across as the gracious thirst quencher, heat beater. I dont like that previous sentence.

@Illusionaire
Beats me. Not their problem, I guess? Or, "this is India this is what we do".

Ethan DeSouza said...

hmmm. interesting.

People, said...

Every time I travel to Bangalore, I feel the same sentiment. You'd be sitting on your window seat at Kacheguda Station, which has a dustbin in decent eyesight from any window and, just like that, you throw your waste out the window. I can understand if it's in the middle of nowhere and not in a station, which is not excusable but even granting that.

I thought of a cool idea. What if someone (maybe me when I have the resources) makes bags - cheap, big enough, NOT plastic bags - that any one from each compartment can buy. If they strangely fancy throwing stuff out the window and act cheap at the same time, they can probably pay, like, less than a rupee per person per person. That's exactly 0 62.5 paise per person, dump tjhis stuff in the bag hug on one of the hooks, and throw it in a dustbin at the last station, or whenever it gets full. Of course, if they feel generous they can get another when it gets full as well. That way they spend 20 paise more than a rupee for a decent window view for the rest of their lives.

People, said...

Every time I travel to Bangalore, I feel the same sentiment. You'd be sitting on your window seat at Kacheguda Station, which has a dustbin in decent eyesight from any window and, just like that, you throw your waste out the window. I can understand if it's in the middle of nowhere and not in a station, which is not excusable but even granting that.

I thought of a cool idea. What if someone (maybe me when I have the resources) makes bags - cheap, big enough, NOT plastic bags - that any one from each compartment can buy. If they strangely fancy throwing stuff out the window and act cheap at the same time, they can probably pay, like, less than a rupee per person per person. That's exactly 0 62.5 paise per person, dump tjhis stuff in the bag hug on one of the hooks, and throw it in a dustbin at the last station, or whenever it gets full. Of course, if they feel generous they can get another when it gets full as well. That way they spend 20 paise more than a rupee for a decent window view for the rest of their lives.

kicking.and.screaming said...

Yea, I do something like that. Always put my waste in a plastic bag and tie it from any of many loops on my bag. Even today with my porridge. Works :)