The days before our pilot, we went to the local community to raise awareness about the process of recycling and to gather community opinion regarding urban pollution.
The community we visited was within a residential area in Kathmandu belonging to nearly 50 households, filled with various local shops and cafes.
The Sansar team went to each of the stalls and houses to understand the concerns caused by urban pollution and to get a sense of what the communities priorities were regarding environment, social and economic change.
We noticed there were two unused recycling bins on the street.
This was because the local waste disposal truck only came on an irrational, infrequent and unpredictable schedule and the local people had lost hope in using bins as a way to tackle urban pollution.
Thus, the recycling bins became redundant.
Inevitably, people continued to chuck their rubbish into the river nearby.
The river continues to be polluted with more and more rubbish flooding the river day by day.
The water, inked with toxic chemicals, is an existent health hazard.
Making the water undrinkable and the river inhabitable.
The community is aware of this pollution.
However, they feel helpless in a cycle that continues to perpetuate - since everything they buy contains plastic.
So what can we do?
We interacted with sellers and buyers, passers by and community leaders asking them if they would feel motivated to tackle this pollution through an exchange system.
We identified rice as a valuable and desirable trade off and developed the “one for one system” - exchanging one kilogram of rice for one kilogram of plastic waste collected.
The feedback was very positive. Community leaders joined to help us spread the word and together, we went to visit each household to explain why and how we were trying to tackle the urban pollution.
After explaining our project, one of the shop owners told us “if you had told me earlier, I wouldn’t have thrown my rubbish into the river!”
It is a deep-set mindset that we are trying to reform. The community should feel empowered to tackle the issue of urban pollution with their own hands.
We want them to believe that the rivers and streets they see every day do not have to be covered with urban waste.
We want to see cleaning efforts upheld through each individual being socially and environmentally responsible - and we feel this will lead to lasting, genuine change.
It is for this reason, Sansar emphasises the importance of a community driven solution to tackle urban waste.
(with the president and the community council of Sangam Tole)
Thank you to the community of Sangam Tole and the volunteer team of Sansar! To support us : gf.me/u/xdpf9u We thank you for your ongoing support ! :)