Sanitation is one of the most basic requirements for maintaining quality of life. From the hygienic disposal of human waste to the safe disposal of numerous objects such as bottles, wrappers, food waste, etc. that human beings create throughout the course of a single day. In-order to prevent diseases such as typhoid, malaria, dengue, to simple skin infections, food poisoning or even lice and fleas, it is key to keep ourselves and our surroundings clean. The proper disposal/incineration of infectious medical waste is a huge issue that is yet to be strictly tackled in the state. One may not believe that the waste created by a single person affects the world as a whole; however, it is daily objects that make up a bulk of the world’s waste. Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to decompose; a tin can takes around 50 years; leather shoes take 25-40 years; milk packets take 5 years; children’s diapers take 500-800 years; and glass bottles take 1-2 million years to fully decompose. The numbers are astonishing. The world’s most polluting industries include chemical manufacturing, industrial estates, tanneries, mining and ore processing, and extractive industries that source oil, mining and gas to name a few. An industry that largely relates to Nagas is the fashion industry. We need to rethink our fast-fashion habits. According to UN environment, the fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water, creating “20% of wastewater whilst also generating more green house emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” The Copenhagen Fashion Summit calculated that a whopping ’92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year’ is attributed to the fashion industry. Just as no waste/ reduced waste is applied to the food industry so must it be applicable to the fashion industry as well.
In Nagaland, most of the waste is concentrated in the rapidly urbanised towns of Dimapur and Kohima – the two places with the highest human population. Waste management in these two cities is most difficult to tackle with the sheer volume of waste produced everyday and the insufficient manpower and finances with the municipal councils to deal with it. Well, it cannot be denied that past and present governments have started taking steps to a more hygienic and sustainable future. A waste management agency has been instated in Kohima, the campaign to make Nagaland plastic-free began late last year; even Nagaland’s infamous and most popular Hornbill festival was declared plastic-free. A GPS-enabled app to track solid waste management vehicle was launched by the Kohima District Planning Development Board in February this year to enable citizens to have easy access of waste disposal. In Dimapur, organisations such as LiFE have begun collecting data on waste generation, which includes data on volume, characterisation and compositions – a step towards understanding waste and thus overcoming and managing it through educated and applicable solutions. The Dimapur Municipal Council and e-circle have started a collaborative effort to reduce and manage electronic waste; the group collects e-waste and takes it to be recycled. These are but a few examples of waste management on a larger scale (within Nagaland). However, we, as individual citizens and consumers, need to rethink our consumption and disposal habits as a priority. Think about where you’re throwing the finished biscuit packet, how much food is wasted on your plate, how much water is running off as you wash the dishes, how many plastic bags/packets you use in a day, and if your water bottle is reusable. Each one of us should take conscious steps towards prioritising quality of life on this planet for current and future generations.