chapter  3
3 Pages

The Composting Bin: Looking for Starters

Nina’s neighbour and longstanding friend is Mela,5 another campaigner for community rights who had now turned her attention to improving conditions in the new settlement. During her days campaigning against eviction with Nina, she had got to know Seva6 – an NGO actively in search of better ways of managing solid waste. Seva had long recognized that managing solid waste effectively involved reducing the amount generated for public disposal and ensuring that dispersal itself was profitable. Good solid waste management had as much to do with changing behaviour and habit as with organization and appropriate technical solutions – in particular, changing attitudes to realize that waste can be a resource, not something you throw away. The trouble is, that rubbish is rarely a priority for people locally, in the face of all their other problems and hardships. The ideological debate in favour of environmental conservation, consuming less energy and saving world resources – big issues indeed for national and global policy – holds little resonance for people struggling to survive on a daily basis. Nor does it score high on the political agenda of public officials – it’s not a great vote catcher! But Mela’s practical wisdom had already shown

how self-interest, how a good measure of responsible selfishness, can bring about change and that most change starts best where it counts, on the ground, and with relatively quick pay-offs, if it is to be sustained.