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Plastic: Burn It All Up!

Last Saturday as I was leaving to go on my walk I saw a few men of the colony/area cleaning up the garbage. It was a real nice and heart-warming site to see people getting together and solving problems. Until now I haven’t seen people do anything together. Here it’s usually the ‘every man to himself’ rule that applies. Over the last couple of weeks the people have bonded over the dog issue and it seems the dogs have broken barriers between people. Finally maybe some good will be done in the colony. I only wish they would show some of this unity and vigour towards our apartment activities and issues too.

Anyway, the garbage outside our apartment had become an eye-sore. ‘Become’ nah its always been an eye-sore. Earlier we had a dustbin designed so dogs cant get at the garbage but people still threw their garbage outside the bin on the ground. We’d have stripped sanitary pads and torn diapers strewn all over the place. After all a pad and diaper are great playthings for dogs. 🙂

Then BBMP made segregation mandatory. Its another matter that our garbage collector doesn’t keep waste segregated, all wastes are thrown into the same mix at the back of the van. We did a drive back then and also gave pamphlets so those who slept through the talk could read later. But its too much work for most people so segregation happens only in some houses. Some don’t have time to put their garbage out for collection on time, so its simpler to walk out late at night and throw the garbage in the empty field where the old dustbin was. People would look at it everyday as the mound built but just walk away, then the maids were asked, even the BBMP guy was asked.  No one wanted the clean-up job.

So, its good to see people take actual action together rather then just have meetings and keep talking.

The men were gathering all leaves and waste into a heap and setting it alight. I stopped by to pass on a message about BBMP wanting to send a representative volunteer to speak to the despiser group and ask if I could help with the cleaning. As expected it became a heat discussion on the demand that dogs have to go. In our talk Mr.M also told me about how there was so much plastic and they had to collect so many dry leaves to burn them. I looked at him aghast… ‘You burned the plastic?’. To which Mr.M shrugged and said, ‘If you burn it along with the leaves, its not toxic. I know all about it.’ Imagine… What do you say to someone who reasons like this. And while this conversation is happening there is a little toddler playing in the smoke along side Dad who’s also standing in the discussion group.

So I figured I’ll write about it after reading a little bit.

The fact sheet by WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future) says

“How does home plasticwaste burning affect people’s health?
Most people who burn their plastic domestic waste do not realize how harmful this practice is to their health and to the environment. Current research indicates that backyard-burning of waste is far more harmful to our health than previously thought. It can increase the risk of heart disease, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes, nausea,or headaches, damages in the nervous system, kidney or liver, in the reproducti- ve and development system. The burning of polystyrene polymers – such as foam cups, meat trays, egg containers, yogurt and deli containers – releases styrene. Styrene gas can readily be absorbed through the skin and lungs. At high levels styrene vapor can damage the eyes and mucous membranes.Long term exposure to styrene can affect the central nervous system,causing headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression. Not only these people who are burning the trash are exposed to these pollutants, but also their neighbours, children and families.

Dioxin emissions from plastic burning
The most dangerous emissions can be caused by burning plastics containing organoch- lor-based substances like PVC. When such plastics are burned, harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms. They are carcinogenic and a hormone disruptor and persistent,
and they accumulate in our body-fat and thus mothers give it directly to their babies via the placenta. Dioxins also settle on crops and in our waterways where they eventu- ally wind up in our food, accumulate in our bodies and are passed on to our children.”

Here are a few other sites with more info –
Project Green Bag – Plastic bags must never be burned
Plastic is Rubbish – Burning Bins
Daily Kos – Burning Plastic can Kill You

I always thought that burning leaves was fine, but the Breathe Campaign site says even burning leaves is bad! I didn’t know that.

So now its confirmed, burning plastic is bad. So where then did Mr.M learn about this burning leaves and plastic recipe? And why the hell do parents not care about the health of their child? We all learned in school that burning plastic fumes are bad. So why don’t we give a damn about our health? Its cancerous fumes we are talking about here. Why did no one else stop Mr.M from burning plastic? Mr.M is turning out to be a good brain-washing politician after all.

Is there a way I can complain about this? Any authority I can complain to? I hadn’t recorded the conversation but I do have photos. It’s not ok to burn plastic. They’re putting me, my family and people at risk!

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