Recycling and incineration in Delhi:

an impossible coexistence

Federico Demaria and Mariel Vilella

Waste pickers survive by collecting waste and helping combat climate change; however, political and economic interests threaten their way of life and propose solutions whose environmental effects are worse.

Even if it is not your first visit to the city, your first step outside Delhi airport takes your breath away. The intense reality touches all your senses: tropical heat and humidity, smells combining spices and pollution, the roar of traffic with thousands of car horns, bright colours and strong contrasts. As usual, there is nobody there to meet us, but this time we would like to think that there is someone waiting for us incognito. Almost invisible to the eyes of locals and foreigners, a barefoot woman dressed in rags bends over a sack, holding it with one hand while she picks up what others have discarded from the ground, mostly paper and plastic. She isn’t aware of it and has other things to worry about, but this time we have come to support her fight and that of thousands of other waste pickers in Delhi.



It’s time to throw out the use-and-throw-away culture

Author: Anna Peña Farell

The ‘free’ plastic bags we are given in shops are an outstanding example of the use-and-throw-away culture. This custom, so convenient at first sight, is the friendly face of a series of problems recognised by everyone. We know perfectly well what we have to do to eliminate this custom, but, at present, only a brave few do it. The Catalunya Lliure de Bosses [A Bag-free Catalonia] campaign is fighting to help us take this step.

When we go shopping we are usually given a bag (normally plastic) to carry our purchases and we are not asked if we want one. Some supermarkets even have a system at the check-out for filling the bags automatically. Usually we don’t stop to think whether we want one; we take it and, when we get home, we throw it away or keep it. By doing this, we can accumulate hundreds of bags! And this is not such a good thing!