Trip to Indore: Lessons from India’s Cleanest City

A trip to explore and learn the lessons for a waste-free and clean city.

For the sixth time in a row, Indore has been named India’s “cleanest city.” This gave me the urge to know, look at, and examine closely what it is that they are doing and the rest of us cannot.

So, before I had the opportunity to visit the city, I read various articles and watched videos that explained Indore’s history and journey to earn this tag. And one thing was clear: it was the government authorities who took the lead, and the public followed the paths laid out for them.

This teamwork definitely compelled me to explore the city closely. But as I have already heard about what and what is exactly happening in Indore, I wanted to give a different perspective on it.

To have the viewpoint of a common resident and explore how difficult or easy it is to keep your city waste-free? Does it really ask you to go the extra mile to achieve the “waste-free” tag? Or will it impact your usual round-the-clock schedules?

Ok! So resting on to my questions, here is a general day of a resident that is contributing in the initiative to keep city waste-free. Read further to explore the lessons from India’s cleanest city.

Lessons from India’s cleanest city

a day in indore

1. Segregation at source

Early in the morning, it’s a usual lifestyle—preparing breakfast and getting all ready to start your day. But here I see packets of milk, vegetable peelings, and other biodegradable kitchen waste. And here comes the most crucial step: disposing of them as segregated waste. The milk packet goes to the plastic waste, and the biowaste is kept for the society’s compost bin.

Waste segregation at the source solves the majority of problems by making subsequent recycling processes easier.

2. Managing waste at home

The biowaste, which is not meant for landfills, is composted. For those communities that do not have a composting facility, the municipal corporation collects the waste and converts it to compost.

Apart from the usual routine, the other type of waste, like metal, plastic, or other type of waste, is kept separately and is sold to recycling plants.

The remainder of the waste is sent to the Municipal Corporation, which employs over 200 people who work hard to separate the waste so that it can be recycled further.

3. Dedicated and organized waste collection

Now, when the waste is managed at source, the majority of the issue has been tackled. The balance of the waste, which is kept to be discarded, is then collected by a garbage van. They now play an important role in this situation. As instructed, they accept only segregated waste. Residents who fail to segregate the waste are fined.

This move has compelled the citizens to segregate the waste, which in turn has resolved major issues with dealing with waste.

4. Proper waste management

Now the waste collected by the municipality is dealt with according to waste type. Depending on the type, it is either sent to recycling plants or used to make energy.

This was the basic routine of dealing with waste for a normal resident. It wasn’t particularly difficult. Yes, we cannot also miss to credit the “safai mitras”- the sanitation workers for contributing to achieve this target. But this article was all about seeing if a local resident faces any difficulty complying with waste-free practises or not.

Apart from this, there were a few adoptions by residents to contribute to the journey toward a waste-free city.

  1. No littering around streets.
  2. Using polybags as little as possible. And if needed, then use the ones that are above 75 microns in thickness.
  3. Individual residents’ awareness to not allow others to dump waste on the streets
  4. Increasing dependency on public transportation

While Indore’s collective initiative earned it the title, several other cities should follow suit. The two promising steps here were- compelling the public for waste segregation and official authorities providing facilities to deal with the waste generated.

It’s the collective efforts only that can help a city or country go waste free.

Apart from all the conscious actions, I realised people haven’t yet switched to plastic alternatives. Switching to eco-friendly alternatives to avoid all plastic consumption is all that Indore should target next.