What does it mean to practice segregation of waste at source? What does it mean to derive satisfaction from a mundane activity such as composting or growing waste at home? What does it mean to pursue a cause so  passionately, given that one was skeptical of the practice before? What does it mean to change the way we relook at waste and experience deep profound change? What does it mean to hold the pile of rotting waste and have an overwhelming power of transformation? 

The book begins with Savita’s take on garbage in the form of the ‘Three Bin Theory’,  with a profound observation, “We are what our bins are”.  And rightly so, given  that Garbologist Rathje said, “What we say about ourselves is never as honest or as revealing as what we throw away’.  

Bin 1: Green: Kitchen Waste – fully renewable into a wewer live form   read compost. Bin 2: Blue/White: Dry Waste, Recyclable – and the key to remember here is the destination that it is taken to. Bin 3: Red, Sanitary or Reject Waste, Hazardous which is something that cannot be salvaged in either of the two categories, but the toxic waste 

Endlessly Green is an immersive and lived account of the author’s experiments with community composting, discovering landfill impacted communities and  the paradox of good looking, blemish free, shiny fresh food and more…

Irony called Landfill

Reading Chapter 1  reminded me of my first visit to Mavallipura – the dumping ground in Bengaluru in  2010…

My heart skipped a beat,

At the sight of this monstrous man-made hill,

My heart skipped a beat,

As the stench assaulted one sense of being, 

My heart skipped a beat,

The darkness was overpowering,

There was something eerie and haunting,

Of the spectacle that unfolded, 

To tell tales of our city and its callousness

The compost we saw packed, so proudly displayed 

Smacked of our city life ignorance 

A dubious green that  was cloaked 

Reeked of false promises

Under the blackened waters, below. 

But wait, what about the people around?

And I pause this poem I had written, to pick up from what Savita points out one landfill many tragedies. And shows us the writing on the wall, “The landfills had sliced the Bangalore population, already riven with divisions, into two classes: those who dump and those who get dumped.  And she recommends that each one of us must visit the landfill once in our lifetime, lest we continue living in denial.

Degrees of Interconnectedness

Savita takes us through different degrees of interconnectedness  and leads to the main question,  ‘What’s on your plate? Where are your vegetables and fruits  growing? Are we responsible for the gallons of pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables? Given that Savita believes in closing the loop, the book too is non-linear in its approach. She takes you through, her volunteering experiments within the apartment, her research with different composting methods, to her full fledged foray into the space of community volunteering and activism.  

The writing is crisp, which weaves together a process for anyone in an apartment community to take the lead to implement.  In Chapter 10, she presents a Step by Step Guide for Apartments/Gated Communities to follow.  

My favourite part  is from the section titled ‘Penny Wise Pound Foolish’, ‘If a community throws away all its waste callously into someone else’s backyard or a fertile farmland, or lets its sewage flow freely into a waterbody, what sort of moral high ground is it perching on? It doesn’t matter what world-class amenities it is studded with or the greenery it is surrounded by, if it is all about maintaining a silly, superfluous cleanliness in its immediate vicinity with no thought spared whatsoever for the greater good, that means it superficial concerns have taken priority over the substantive…’. The observation is spot on, as very often we prioritize visual cleanliness over the process of managing waste in a segregated manner. 

 Savita calls attention to the need to build a new belief system, to relook at the intangible and invisible benefits and do so she says,’ Re-establish our connection with what we throw out, as that can be the first action point’.

Read the book to find out more!