In New Delhi, an informal army of tens of thousands of workers known as wastepickers dig through Delhi’s garbage, gathering plastic, paper, pieces of metal and shards of glass, recycling every scrap. The impact of these efforts on the environment are tremendously positive, making wastepicking the single largest mitigator of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, the equivalent of removing roughly 175,000 passenger vehicles from the roads.
Today, thanks to efforts by the Delhi-based nonprofit organization Chintan, which works for environmental justice for India’s poor and marginalized by building partnerships, some of these workers are finding opportunities to collect and sort trash directly from businesses, keeping it out of landfills altogether. Rekha, one of the people now working with Chintan, arrived in Delhi 18 years ago and has gone from working as a wastepicker to becoming a waste entrepreneur, employing 16 people and working with fast food chains, hotels and malls to collect trash to be recycled.
To learn more about Rekha and the work Chintan is doing, read the Ensia article “India’s Informal Environmental Army.”