Garbage is for Garbage Bin not Wash Basin

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In the month of January, I visited the office of a Multinational organization in Chennai and found the premises spick n span. Floor of the building was shining incandescently and housekeeping of the building was near perfect. This is how the office of a Multinational organization should look like without an iota of doubt.

Cafeteria was also very clean and interiors were nicely done, eating area was clearly segregated from the serving area and people serving the food were well dressed and wore gloves and Chef hats, which are designed to prevent hair from falling into the food while cooking but one peculiar line which caught my eye and can be a source of major embarrassment for all the employees of that organization and for us Indians in general was the one written on the top of the wash basin which had state of the art faucet installed.

Do not put waste food in the wash basin” I found it intriguing, it was not the first time that I noticed something like this, I have seen it written in public toilets. People in India are not averse to throw their unused food in train toilets or on the pavements while travelling. Probably most of the litter which is strewn around on pavements is the waste food which is generated. It is not uncommon to find paan-stained wash basin and muck-filled toilets in our country. Rather it is taken as a source of pride to chew paan and spit it on the roads or on the wash basins and public urinals.

So what is it that make us Indians behave the way we do in Public. Office of a multinational organization where in some of the most educated people of the country work has to write it “Do not put waste food in the wash basin”. Does it mean that we Indians are apathetic about our hygiene or hygiene of our surroundings? Do the most educated people in our country need to be taught not to throw garbage in wash basins. So much for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Our Prime Minister has been screaming from ramparts of Red fort to keep the country clean, so many campaigns have been launched to segregate garbage. Here our Government is trying to educate us on the nuances of segregating dry garbage, wet garbage, sanitary waste and hazardous waste but we are still stuck in the medieval period. It seems old habits die hard and that is precluding us from adopting basic hygiene factors.

First of all, to waste food is a sin as per our culture and in countries like Germany, Norway, Denmark and in some other Scandinavian countries it is almost treated as a crime to waste the food but here in our country food wastage is simply condoned. Rather wastage of food is seen as a sign of opulence. Whenever we pay obeisance to our Gods food is mandatory and where does all that food go could be anybody’s guess. Food wastage is a topic in itself which I will be dealing with separately but this ostentatious display of wealth primarily by wasting food and throwing it in sewers is surely not the right way.

We are living a country where we have serious issues with regard to handling of garbage and that is exactly the reason why all these campaigns like clean India have been launched in our country.

So many awareness campaign related to Swachhta or cleanliness which have been launched but with little impact. All these campaigns and exhortations have fallen on deaf ears. We are still using anachronistic ways for waste management. Can’t we simply take what we have to eat in our plates so that balance amount of food can be utilized elsewhere. Secondly let us pledge to resolve that from today onwards we will not throw any uneaten food in public spaces. The unused food is choking the basins and the pipes and also rotting our entire system and leads to more garbage being created.

If we start adopting these basic rules at least in our work places it will go a long way in waste management issues. India generates 150 million tons of waste in a day and most of it is left in the landfills at the city outskirts leaving a stinking smell and vultures hovering over heaps of hazardous material.

Only 10-20 per cent of the city waste is recycled in an environment-friendly way and the rest is allowed to lie in the landfills. There are a lot of people engaged in cleaning of our public spaces and our offices but it is our responsibility to keep our surroundings clean. Let’s put our garbage where it is supposed to go. As responsible and educated citizens of this country this is the least we can do. Putting waste food in wash basins is certainly not the way to go.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by the author are personal.

Images: google Images


  1. You made a good point! Food waste is not a problem exclusively existed in India. Food waste has been heavily debated in Norway as well. Tons of food including bread, diary products, meat etc are wasted every year. People are encouraged to save food and environment. Lots of cafes, restaurants, hotels and bakeries have started to re-distribute excessive food instead of throwing them away. Organisations for homeless people are among the receivers of excessive food I’ve heard. I think it’s great.

    1. That’s a terrific initiative. I think we in India can do that as well. Thanks for reading and sharing your point.

    1. thanks for liking it. I have not been writing much of late but this line caught my eye. We must do something about it.

  2. Poor and uneducated ( without formal education) can’t afford to waste the food as they have to first fill their stomach.

    We tend to waste ( or use it indiscriminately) almost everything we need to preserve. Air, water, resources..,, and of course Food… at one end of the spectrum, we have people who are still working for Roti ( forget about Kapda and Makhan) … at the other end we have people vying for Rs. 10 Crire each Trump Tower and many of them waste more food than they eat. I think we should start rationing the essential ration to avoid wastage.

    1. Thanks sir for a very useful insight. Income inequality in India is huge and for rich what better way to show their wealth. Now even middle class is following them. Sheer wastage of food and resources.

  3. Hey..sidhharth.. Very very nicely written. Very important point you made here. Aslo very informative. Great article. It’s a little saddening too..

  4. I cannot agree more, Siddhartha. This is truly a piece that should be sent across as a regular reminder to every household simply because this is a practice that we Indians can practice if we must, like when we come outside of our country – for residence, work or even a vacation, we end up following the rules of that country, putting trash where it belongs. If you are in a country like Germany, you end up cleaning your plate spotless as you have to pay for the excess food that you have wasted. This awareness is required and the more the reminder the better for those people who believe that anything outside the premises of their home is absolutely fine. Very well expressed!

    1. Even educated people behave like illiterate. That’s so ironical. Even though rules are there but still we don’t follow them. Throwing food in wash basins and toilets is rooted in our DNA it seems

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