This 23-year-old Mumbaikar has adopted a plastic-free and zero-waste lifestyle

From waste segregation, compositing, menstrual hygiene management and going plastic free, T Lalita is reducing the waste generated at source as well as helping waste pickers lead a healthy lifestyle.

Decision on the collection and treatment of garbage has always been made by district or state authorities. While we blame the civic authorities for improper waste disposal, as an individual, many of us might have never made an effort to reduce the waste generated.

And as the blame game continues, ultimately it is the waste pickers who suffer as they have to segregate waste and ensure its proper disposal. The hazardous waste generated can also have a serious impact on their health as they get exposed to toxic gases such as ammonia, methane, and carbon-dioxide in the process of waste segregation.

Looking at the plight of waste pickers at CP Talao landfill in Thane, Mumbai, 23-year-old T Lalita was taken by surprise. Working as a consultant with Stree Mukti Sanghatana, an NGO that deals with the rights of women waste pickers, Lalita realised that it is every citizen’s responsibility to reduce the waste generated at source.

T Lalita, source NDTV

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Speaking to NDTV about her visit to the landfill, Lalita said,

“As a citizen, I have always been worried about the issue of garbage treatment in Mumbai, but it was only when I interacted with the waste pickers, I got to know that people lacked basic civic sense. When I visited the landfill along with the waste pickers from the NGO, I was startled to see the volume of waste dumped at the landfill. To add to that, all kinds of waste were dumped together, and the waste pickers had to handpick the dry waste, as it was their only source of income.”

Looking at this, Lalita decided to change her lifestyle and go plastic-free. She stopped using non-biodegradable items such as straws, polythene, bottles, etc. She says, every time she steps out now, she carries a water bottle and a cloth bag with her. She has also stopped ordering food from outside to eliminate plastic packaging.

Speaking to Indian Women Blog about this, Lalita said,

“That’s how my zero-waste journey began. I started composting the wet waste at home. Until then, I saw homemade products as a very Pinterest concept. After reading up more on zero waste lifestyles and looking at videos on YouTube, I decided to make a permanent switch to eco-friendly and plastic-free products, which could be composted in the basket kept in my balcony.”

Representational image, source Indian Women Blog

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Lalita says she follows four steps to achieve her zero-waste mission. This includes waste segregation, compositing, menstrual hygiene management, and going plastic free.

Talking more about her journey to NDTV, she said,

“My journey is extremely economical. I don’t buy pads, shampoos, and soaps anymore. All the products I use are found in the kitchen or can be sourced from the local market. I don’t use expensive DIY products. So, I try to use neem and hibiscus leaves for my face and as hair masks, she says.”

Moreover, Lalita makes her own beauty products. She uses ingredients available at home, or those that are easily available in the local market. She uses reetha (soapnut) to wash her hair, moong dal flour as a body scrub, and mixes turmeric, gram flour, and crushed hibiscus leaves as a natural conditioner.

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Lalita, who is now actively using social media to spread awareness about this, says that people are willing to change their lifestyle for the environment, but lack of knowledge about alternate options stops them from doing so.

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