8 months ago
From bicycle to recycle: The Khalisisi men
When Aayushi KC was in the US, she saw that taking out garbage was a fun family activity. On the contrast, she realized people back home don’t even bother on propery managing their waste. Additionally, people behave poorly with garbage collectors and outright disrespect them.
Upon coming back to Nepal, KC wanted to start something that would develop similar waste management culture among the people. She started Khalisisi in 2016 to change the baised mentality against garbage collectors.
Khalisisi has now been serving as a platform where individuals/organizations can connect to the garbage collectors, or people who collect khalisisi (empty bottles).KC addresses the garbage collectros as Khalisisi friends (KSFs).
These KSFs can be seen every now and then travelling around Kathmandu, calling for people to sell their‘Khalisisi purano kagaj’ (empty bottles and old papers) on old bicycles. These garbage collectors are spread across the country. Most of the garbage in our surrounding gets recycled, thanks to these KSFs. But there is a limit to when and where they can be at.
“In many places, they are often mistreated and restricted from entering people’s houses because of our lack of respect to what they do. Compared to the hard-work and the miles they travel going door-to-door and alley-to-alley to collect even the smallest pieces of waste, these khalisisi men don’t make enough money to justify that,” Aayushi shared.
“The idea behind Khalisisi was to give our KSFs a bigger platform and more business opportunities; not to replace them,” Aayushi clarified. At present, she has already teamed up with about 50 KSFs that have been assigned separate clusters of Kathmandu, and have started doing better business with Aayushi’s help.
“We marketed Khalisisi through Facebook and Instagram. People have been gradually accepting the idea of using digital platform as a means to create cleaner and greener environment,” she shared, adding that her family and in-laws have been equally supportive of her idea.
On the other hand, recalling back to when they started, Aayushi says many of the KSFs did not initially accept the idea. “They felt strange when a woman approached them to join hands, and that too for their own benefit.”
There are many types of waste just sitting around in the house for years. What can we do about that? “We have a website for those who want to connect with Khalisisi. The website allows people to choose whether to sell or donate their waste. Segregate all extra things into dry and wet waste. Pick a date and time as per your convenience and a designated KSF will come to your house to pick your stuffs,” she said.
“At the moment, we are only collecting dry waste that includes paper, plastic, metal, bottles or electronics,” KC added.
Waste management problem
Many debates and discussions have been held on the effects of poor waste management in the Kathmandu Valley. KC said, “Constitutionally, haphazard waste dumping is a punishable act, but no one has been penalized for it. In addition, people do not know how to segregate their waste.”
“Recycling is a more convenient option for people as well as the environment. A single dustbin is full of all kinds of waste and plastics are dumped together with organic waste. Plastic takes millions of years to decay and the landfill starts producing leachate. The leachate later gets mixed with water resources and will result in water and food contamination,” she added.
Kathmandu stands in the seventh most polluted city in the world. In KC’s observation, Kathmanduties depend largely on garbage trucks deployed from the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to dump their waste. There is no individual effort in waste management, she said.