“We don’t believe in sitting idle,” says Yvonne Dsouza, president of Borivli’s IC Women’s Welfare Association (ICWWA), as she enters her small office, which serves as the group’s service centre.
The ICWWA was started in 2001 as a group to help women and underprivileged children. It then expanded its scope to eco-friendly activities. “Eight years ago, we decided to take our work) up a notch and start green drives in our colony by planting saplings,” said Angela Fernandes, committee member, ICWWA.
“We conducted the plantation drive twice and planted 22 trees each time. We also objected when officials tried to cut the trees,” Fernandes said.
The group’s current project is the crucial issue of electronic or e-waste disposal. E-waste refers to broken or old electronic gadgets that contain toxic materials, which can harm human, animal and plant life. If the wastes are disposed of at regular garbage dumps, the chemicals can leach into the soil and water. Some of these materials, if extracted safely, can be recycled.
“This was the first time we took up such an initiative. We received a good response from the residents. During the drivel we collected two tempos worth of e-waste. We plan to conduct such initiatives monthly,” said Dsouza. The e-waste is then handed over to municipal officials, who recycle and dispose of it safely.
The 18-member committee has created a WhatsApp group to inform residents about their initiatives. “The group includes police personnel and municipal corporation officials. In this way, if we plan to start an initiative, we can get a green signal from government officials immediately,” said Fernandes.
The group has conducted workshops and seminars to educate them about waste management, pollution control, women empowerment and education for children.
The registered charitable trust association has more than 370 members, after beginning with just 10. Locals pay Rs100 for a lifetime membership.
As Mumbai struggles to dispose of its daily output of nearly 10,000 tonnes of garbage and its dumping grounds are saturated, associations such as these inform citizens how to reduce their waste. “We regularly make announcements, telling society members to segregate waste. A considerable change has come over the colony over the years,” said Suzanne Valles, a member of the association.
“Everything takes time. People need to be aware and actively participate in such events,” Dsouza said.
The ICWWA sponsors all the association’s events and workshops by selling hand-me-downs donated by members. “We call it the White Elephant Sale. Residents who are on a Christmas cleaning spree have been giving us their items,” Valles said.
Chandrakant Tambe, an official with H-West municipal ward, said the collection of e-waste is the most important aspect of waste management. “This is an important initiative. It will help the municipal corporation. The support of people reduces the pressure on us. Development can be sustained only if people participate and have the right mindset,” Tambe added.