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How I Saved The Environment From 150 Kg Of E-waste

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By Raghav Sharma:

Being brought up in one of the fastest developing economies of the 21st century, we all have noticed the skies turn blue to slightly grey, and the landfills mount up year by year. We have also noticed humans evolve into cyborgs, with their eyes constantly fixed to their smartphone or laptop screens, wired from top to bottom with charging, audio and performance devices. Technology has become an indispensable way of life, without which functioning will be difficult. The development in technology, however, is so rapid that gadgets and devices reach obsolescence in very little time, consequently increasing the need to discard old gadgets and adopt new ones. Majority of us, however, are not aware of the problems caused by mindlessly discarding old gadgets without any scientific treatment, leaving us with mounts of untreated and potentially toxic E-Waste.

Raghav and his brother with some of the E-Waste they collected

While I was interning at Chintan, my seniors at the organisation sent me a documentary about the improper disposal of E-Waste and the far-reaching implications it had on us. The documentary was called “E-Waste – Citizens at Risk”, and watching it brought about in me a heartfelt urge to take a stand on this issue. An emotion curled up inside my conscience, making me realise how we humans, unknowingly through our actions and developments, are punishing our own selves. Motivated by the urge to cure the E-Waste problem, I spent a few days trying to absorb all the information about E-Waste, its improper disposal and how harmful it is for us.

For years, we have been observing the brutality with which we humans have treated the environment, and at the same time, we have been busy upgrading our smartphones and discarding DVD layers, unaware of the fact that we are leaving a toxic footprint on the face of the earth. Moved by the immense stress we are unknowingly putting on the planet, a sense of motivation drove me to take a stand against the improper E-Waste disposal in our country and sensitize people towards it. Inspired by Chintan’s initiative of an app called Pick My Trash, for picking e-waste, I started an E-Waste collection drive in my locality wherein we spread awareness amongst the citizens about the threats of E-Waste and collected waste from their homes and offices for their proper disposal and recycling. Through the initiative, I was able to invoke a sense of responsibility in the residents of my colony, while at the same time develop a community of like-minded people ready to take action and work towards a sustainable future.  Overall, I succeeded in diverting over 150kg of E-Waste from ending up in landfills to getting properly treated. Carrying out a constructive social campaign has created a very positive state of mind for me and has acted as a source of motivation to work more towards environmental issues. Sometimes, a few things have a long lasting impact on our minds, and the growing problem of Electronic Waste disposal has taken over mine.


E-Waste contains a plethora of detrimental toxic compounds and due to improper disposal of such toxic substances, chemicals like Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Polybrominated Flame Retardants, Barium and Lithium get accumulated in the biosphere, posing a threat to the environment. All these toxins are persistent and bio-accumulative and pose serious health risks when computers are incinerated or disposed in landfills. We can’t even imagine the fact that upgrading to the latest iPhone and discarding the older one can cause such toxins to seep into nature, and open doors for fatal diseases. The current scenario of E-Waste disposal in India narrates a story of utter mess and mismanagement. Most of the E-Waste in India is recycled by the informal sector through unscientific methods. A large chunk of the E-Waste ends up being burnt and treated using improper procedures leading to accumulation of toxins in the air, water, and soil.

An astounding fact is that though E-Waste comprises only 2-5% of the total waste, it makes up about 70% of the total toxic waste. We definitely don’t want our blood to be overflowing with hazardous toxins; and it is time to ensure that every step we take, reduces the stress on the future generations to come.

The author interned with Chintan over the Summer of 2018. He is currently pursuing Environmental Engineering from Delhi Technological University. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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