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Marginalised by caste, gender, and often migrant status, waste workers find it difficult to access even basic civic amenities in cities. They do not have access to protective equipment or the benefits of government schemes and are generally harassed by local cops and thugs due to a lack of identity. Waste Warriors works with these communities to improve their access to government schemes, permanent housing, health camps, and education for their children and supports them during natural disasters.
In the rural areas of IHR, there is a social stigma associated with working with waste, and therefore, it becomes a struggle to initiate waste collection operations. Through an inclusive approach, Waste Warriors identifies people from the community and empowers them to become agents of change.
There is a huge opportunity for reliable local entrepreneurs to offer waste collection and processing services, including operating Material Recovery Facilities and Composting units. However, local entrepreneurs must be made accountable to the communities they serve otherwise, we will create similar problems that we observe with contractors in urban areas.
We have developed a ‘Paryavaran Sakhi’ model in which rural women of diverse backgrounds come together to form Self-Help-Groups to offer door-to-door waste collection services in rural areas. This model has tremendous potential to scale up into a pan-India movement as it empowers enterprising women from rural areas with livelihoods and income generating opportunities through collection of user fees and sale of recyclables.
Disposable paper cups are not a solution to disposable plastic cups. Waste Warriors believes in changing consumption patterns by moving away from the culture of disposables. We believe in the fundamental concept of 3Rs in the mentioned order of priority – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
We promote reusable products made from naturally available materials as much as possible by facilitating Self-Help-Groups to produce sustainable alternatives and partnering with existing such initiatives or groups to scale or diversify production. We also encourage upcycling certain types of waste into ‘products’ that can be sold to tourists to generate additional income for local communities.