If you did not know what ‘upcycling’ was before, then you are just like me. Let me tell you a little about it. While traditional recycling needs to infact increase, there are many items that cannot easily be recycled. These items go into landfills and keep piling up, not adding any value to us. Recycling takes the object back to its raw form and is used in its original manner. With ‘upcycling’ one can take waste items and make them more beautiful and valuable.
Ask Patricia Pinto who started her journey with garbage way back in 1995. While she started recycling for the city of Panjim, Goa, there were a lot of items that could not be recycled. Wanting to ensure they do not end up in landfills, she took inspiration from what people were doing on the internet and decided to make something from these waste items. She used discarded ceramic, porcelain, melamine, thermocol and fabric from Panjim’s dry waste sorting centre to create beautiful art objects and products to use around the house. Truly good upcycling is an art form and not just junk that has been spruced up! Do read her story.
How did you take up the cause of upcycling or creating wealth out of waste?
I love the “garbage” topic and can talk “trash” for hours on end and have been doing so as far back as 1995. As an elected Councillor to the Corporation of the city of Panjim in the year 2000, I was directly involved in the issue. We started segregation of waste into wet and dry at the source itself. But this did not seem to be the solution. I insisted that dry waste be segregated into four parts at the household and hotel level. The four parts being plastic, paper, metal/glass and non-recyclables. While all these four can be recycled or treated, it was the ceramic, porcelain, melamine and earthenware that would eventually have to be landfilled. Land, as you know, is scarce in Goa, so there had to be some other way to treat these items and that’s what I do, “Upcycle those items that are tough to recycle”.
What is the garbage situation in Goa like?
I don’t want to sound alarming. But “pathetic” is putting it mildly. Every village and every city is reeling over the garbage issue. The newspapers are full of articles or news on it. People genuinely want to do something about it. Several civic groups are chipping in, cleaning roads, water bodies, beaches etc. But sadly the authorities just seem to be oblivious to the fact that we are actually sitting on a garbage time bomb.
What are some of the solutions to the garbage situation overall as all cities have the problem of garbage?
The solution to this problem cannot be one-sided. The authorities and the people have to work on this together. I have a lot of faith in the people and they will do what they are told to do. But they need to believe that the authorities are genuine about what they tell them to do. For example, people will take the trouble to segregate their waste. But if the waste collectors pick up the segregated waste and dump it together in the waste truck, in one stroke, they have broken the confidence that people had in them. And this is exactly what is happening. An entire system needs to be put in place, i.e., segregation at source, collection and final treatment of the waste. There can be no half measures.
- Patricia Pinto: “Upcycle what is tough to recycle” - 29th August 2019
- The alluring Great Rann of Kutch - 18th July 2019