Chapter 16: Garbage in, Garbage out (Notes)
Posted on : 22-11-2017 Posted by : Admin


  1. We generate so much of rubbish from our day-to-day activities and every day we throw out this rubbish as garbage from our home, school, shops, office and many other places. Many of us also throw the rubbish on public places.

    For example:

    • We throw groundnut shells wherever we sit
    • We throw away the ticket after getting of the bus or train
    • We throw the sharpened pencil peel on the floor
    • We tear and throw away the pages of the book if not needed.
    • We throw away old toys, clothes, shoes etc.
  2. We use so much of plastic day in and day out. The packed food, grains, vegetables, fruits, biscuits, milk almost everything we get from the market is packed in plastic bags or tins. After using, we all throw out these packing materials out as garbage.
  3. Also many times we just buy things we are very rarely used by us and often these things end up in garbage.

Dealing with garbage

  1. Did you ever wonder where does all this waste go and what happens to the garbage. The safai karmacharis collect the garbage in trucks and take it to low lying open area called landfill.
  2. At the land fill the reusable garbage is separated out. Then the non-useful garbage is spread over the landfill. This landfill is then covered with a layer of soil.
  3. Once the landfill is completely full, it is usually converted into a park or a playground. For the next 20 years or so, no building is constructed on it.
  4. The reusable garbage is taken to the compost making areas often located near the landfill.
  5. The garbage collected from the kitchen like the fruits and vegetables peels, left over and waste cooked food etc. can form manure which is used for plants. This garbage material can be converted into manure by putting it into the soil pits. After a few days this garbage gets completely rotten and smell-free. This rotting and conversion of some materials into manure is called ‘composting’.
  6. In some cities and towns municipalities provide separate dustbins for collecting two kinds of garbage. Usually one is colored blue and the other green.
  7. The blue bin is for materials that can be used again like plastics, metals and glass. The materials in the blue bin do not rot.
  8. The green bins are for collecting kitchen and other plant or animal wastes. The materials in the green bin rot completely when buried in the soil.
  9. The dried leaves collected on the roadside are burnt. Even the farmers burn the husk, dried leaves and part of crop plants in their fields after harvesting. Burning of these produces smoke and gases that are harmful to our health. We must stop such practices because these leaves, husk and other plant parts can be converted into manure.
  10. Earthworms are also known as the farmer’s friend. Earthworm, also known as red worm are useful for making compost. This compost made with the help of earthworms is called as vermicompost and process is called as vermicomposting.

The process of Vermicomposting

  1. Let us dig a pit of about 30 cm deep or keep a wooden box at a place, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
  2. Spread a net or chicken or spread 1-2 cm thick layer of sand mesh at the bottom of the pit or the box.
  3. Spread some vegetable and fruit wastes or green leaves, pieces of dried stalks of plants, husk or pieces of newspaper or cardboard, dried animal dung over this layer of sand.
  4. Sprinkle some water to make this layer wet. Do not add excess water or press this layer. This layer must be loose enough with sufficient air and moisture.
  5. Now put some red worms into this pit. Cover them loosely with a gunny bag or an old sheet of cloth or a layer of grass.
  6. Vegetable and fruit wastes, coffee and tea remains and weeds from the fields or garden can be given as food for the worms. Salt, pickles, oil, vinegar, meat and milk preparations must not be used as food for the worms.
  7. Gently mix and move the top layers of your pit once in few days.
  8. In about 3-4 weeks the vermicompost will be ready for harvest.
  9. For harvesting put some worm food in one corner of the pit. Most of the worms will shift towards this food part of the pit. Remove the compost from the vacated part.
  10. Dry the compost in the sun for a few hours before using

Facts about Earthworms

  1. Earthworms do not have teeth. They have a structure called ‘gizzard’, which helps them in grinding their food.
  2. Powdered egg shells or sea shells mixed with their food can help earthworms in grinding their food.
  3. In one day an earthworm can eat food equal to its own weight.
  4. Earthworms do not survive in very hot or very cold surroundings.
  5. Earthworms need moisture around them.
  6. If good care is taken the number of worms will double in a month’s time.

Recycling of the paper

  1. We can recycle pieces of old newspapers, magazines, used envelopes, notebooks, or any other paper. Small pieces of paper are put in a bucket of water. The paper is kept submerged for one day. Next day these paper pieces are pounded to make a thick paste. This thick paper paste is spread on the mesh fixed frame. After spreading the paste is gently patted to make it uniform.
  2. After the water from the paste is drained off, this layer is carefully removed from the frame and spread on a sheet of newspaper and kept in sun to dry. We can also add color papers, dry leaves or flower petals to get recycled paper with beautiful patterns.

Plastics-Boon or a curse

  1. Though it might be a bit difficult to imagine our lives without plastics, they cause great pollution. Toys, shoes, bags, pens, combs, tooth brushes, buckets, bottles, water pipes etc. are all made from plastic. The use of plastics in itself might not create so much of a problem. Problems arise when we use plastics excessively and are ignorant about ways of disposing their waste.
  2. We often use plastic bags to store cooked food items. Sometimes these bags may not be suitable for keeping eatables. For storing eatables we must insist on use of plastic bags that are approved for such a use.
  3. All kind of plastics give out harmful gases, upon heating or burning. These gases may cause many health problems, including cancer, in humans. People often fill garbage in plastic bags and throw away. When stray animals look for food in these bags, they end up swallowing these. Sometimes animals even die due to this.
  4. The plastic bags thrown away carelessly on roads and other places get into drains and the sewer system As a result, drains get choked and the water spills on the roads. During heavy rains, it might even create a flood like situation.


Minimizing plastic useage

  1. We must make a minimum use of plastic bags. We must re-use the bags whenever it is possible to do so without any adverse effects.
  2. We must insist shopkeepers use paper bags. Or we must carry a cloth or a jute bag when we go out for shopping.
  3. We must not use plastic bags to store eatables.
  4. We must not throw plastic bags after use. Used plastic bags must be disposed properly.
  5. We must never burn plastic bags and other plastic items.
  6. We must not collect and throw garbage in plastic bags.
  7. We must use vermicomposting at home and deal with our kitchen waste usefully.
  8. We must recycle paper.
  9. We must use both sides of the paper to write. We should use a slate for rough work. We should use blank sheets of paper left in our notebooks for rough work.
  10. We make our family, friends and others to follow proper practices for disposing different kinds of wastes.
  11. The more garbage we generate, the more difficult it will be to get rid of it.

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