Don’t Be Trashy! How You Can Involve the Community to Make a Big Difference!

Saffia Malik

“Don’t be trashy!” is a small scale project that aims to sensitize people about the current trash problem in Karachi and to try and change their habits by creating awareness, and making them realize that the role they play as individuals can create a huge impact. The project objective was to lay emphasis on the importance of segregating waste at the source and disposing it off correctly. All that was required from the neighbours was their organic waste
that was generated daily, which was further used to make compost for local farmers.
It all started with a small idea that involved cooperation from neighbours and a dustbin. So one evening, I went door to door, to visit my neighbours, (probably for the first time ever!) I visited seven houses and went to their gatekeepers and asked them to ask inside if it was okay for me to come in for 2 minutes. They all welcomed me in very warmly. I explained to them very quickly and thoroughly, the aim of my project and how they can play their part. I also handed them over some garbage bags and a brochure which explained the simple steps along with a letter that contained a little more detail about the project as well as my contact information. I was also very surprised at how woke they were about composting and they all seemed to have some prior knowledge about it. One of my neighbours who was probably the only one who didn’t know about composting, asked me why she shouldn’t just keep the organic waste and compost it in her own garden instead of giving it to me for trash it!
The next morning, on November 21st, the dustbin was out, chained and locked to a tree to prevent theft. The dustbin had labels on it indicating it was only organic waste and that this
was private property that should not be stolen. I came home only to find two bags of organic waste. I was a little disheartened specially at the promising response that I had gotten from my neighbours the evening before. I didn’t want to be bothersome and keep pestering them so I waited another two days until I asked my gatekeeper to ask the other gatekeepers when they would often meet in the evening, about why they aren’t throwing their waste. This seemed to help and the next day and the day after I got a good response and an almost full dustbin. Every evening, the trash it rider would come and collect the garbage from the dustbin and every day the neighbours would throw it. I began this process on the 21st of November and it is still ongoing and I hope it will continue to.
It is important to note that this is a small scale initiative but causes a huge difference. More so because if we change habits and make this a trend it can be adopted in other neighbourhoods. (It has already been adopted in another street in phase 8) Community engagement is extremely important, as is taking a small imitative that will create a huge difference and change habits. Even if it is just a dustbin full of trash, it will help. Every piece counts.
organic waste
My name is a Saffia Malik. I am studying Communication and Design at Habib University.