Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Let’s talk trash

On average, a person in India uses 20-40kg of plastic in a year. It clogs drains, kills animals and piles up in landfills. If you ask Poonam Bir Kasturi, a Bangalore-based composting and recycling evangelist, that’s 20-40kg worth of reasons why future consumers, i.e. children, need to understand the perils of plastic and change their usage patterns. “But often, when we talk to kids about issues of sustainability, it becomes a boring lecture," says Kasturi, who is the founder of Daily Dump, a company that makes compost Kambhas (pots).

In her efforts to get children to make informed choices without being sanctimonious and preachy, Kasturi self-publishes interactive picture books that deal with the mucky subject of trash. “Parroting something simplistic like plastic should be banned is not enough. They need to engage with these issues and think about the big picture," she says. Her latest initiative comes in the form of two Ouch And Moo books, about a hungry cow that eats a plastic bag, which ends up killing her. The yellow book in the set is for younger children aged 4-8; the red book, for ages 8-80, deals with the same issue in more depth.

‘The Red Ouch and Moo Book’ cover
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‘The Red Ouch and Moo Book’ cover

Both books have questions and activities which help children understand the difference between organic waste and plastic and question their habits. For instance, children are invited to plant a banana peel and a carrybag in soil to see which decomposes (“the banana becomes mud’s friend in seven days").

The Ouch And Moo books can be ordered on Daily Dump’s website or bought at their office in Indiranagar, Bangalore. Earlier self-published titles include 5 Disgustingly Cool Books for Kids (which can be torn and put into a composter after reading) and The Magic Gamla Pot, which urges children to experiment with recycling organic waste.

Kasturi is currently working on two illustrated book-sets as a follow-up to Ouch And Moo. The first, called Ooze, will focus on the toxicity of e-waste, while the second, Juice, will deal with the perils of non-recyclable packaging. Like Ouch And Moo, which was about plastic bags, these too are concerned with the products children use every day—chips packets, tetrapaks, batteries, and so on. “The stories are a good way for kids to reflect on their consumption patterns while looking at the whole cycle of where the product comes from and where it goes after they are done with it," adds Kasturi.

For parents in Bangalore looking for more, Daily Dump also conducts Trash Trails for groups of nine. Children above 12 and adults who sign up get to meet ragpickers, recyclers and wholesale waste dealers and visit a landfill to better understand what happens to waste after it leaves our trashcans.

The Ouch And Moo books are priced at 250 each; Trash Trails cost 2,247 per person. For details, visit www.dailydump.org.

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