• 21 Sep - 27 Sep, 2019
  • Eman Saleem
  • Feature

In support and collaborated efforts of environmentalists and activists, the first ever “Climate March” is being observed nationwide on 20th September, a movement many would agree initiated late, but optimistically not too late. Pakistan has been declared as one of the top 10 countries to be most affected by climate change and Karachi, the commercial and economic hub, ranked fifth most unliveable city by Economic Intelligence Unit compared to being ranked fourth last year, an improvement almost infinitesimal unless a consumer lifestyle revolution is in effect at grassroot level. The saddest reality is that there are environmental laws in Federal as well as Provincial governments but there is ceaseless general reluctance to abide by them. “In reality the question of how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle boils down do something more of essence than choosing one product over another. We need a radical shift in one’s mindset; this will then install a new filter of vision through which future choices can be made that are safer, wiser and truly environmentally friendly,” says Mrs. Haider, founder of Garilev. Climate change is a waste management problem and Pakistan today produces over 50,000 MT of garbage daily of which less than 5% is currently being recycled. In a developing Pakistan, responsible waste management for a civilian is an afterthought at best and it is time that changed. Here’s how an average Pakistani can contribute, in terms of changing the way you shop, dispose and support.


Pioneers of waste management in the private sector, founder Asif Farooki, an environmentalist that founded the company 23 years ago with six donkey carts. Wastebusters provides a systematic day-to-day garbage collection and recycling system and aims to become the first self-sustained zero-waste waste management company. The main goals and objectives is to generate income from garbage and in the process creating jobs and providing service to the community while cleaning up the community. “Lack of awareness and a generally apathetic attitude of the public is the biggest problem which has started aggravating the problem in almost all the main cities of Pakistan.” says a company representative. “Our government needs to adopt modern technologies and enhance the capacity of the municipal bodies. Waste Management is now a science which has many avenues which need to be explored as is the trend in the developed world.” The least civilians can do is dispose their trash responsibly to organisations that have developed systems to recycle this garbage into finished goods that can be used. Wastebusters insists that garbage recycling and power generation programs are a hot topic on a global platform and Pakistan has the potential to excel in this at industry level.


GarbageCAN started off with a borrowed Suzuki, and now has vehicles running around town collecting garbage from homes, offices, restaurants and also purchase recyclables from business. “GarbageCAN participates in various awareness programs such as Project Re-Vibe, via which we intend to engage all demographics, ranging from the highly educated, to the skilled workers, to marginalised communities, to women, and to the lesser fortunate. It helps create a sense of environmental responsibility, plus it identifies the waste management industry as a viable profession and a dependable source of income,” says founder, Ahmed Shabbar. He presses on the importance of educating masses on responsible waste management and reducing non-recyclable waste and opt for sustainable alternatives. At policy level, Shabbar says Pakistan needs laws which make it compulsory for each and every commercial or non-commercial entity to recycle and public-private partnerships should be created, where private enterprises should be allowed to manage and process the institutions’ waste, while the public authorities should be in charge of regulating and licensing the private companies. In desperate times like these, Shabbar suggests the government penalise entities that do not recycle.


One of the biggest contributors of single-use plastics are restaurants; studying and understanding this niche, founder Sameed Anis launches his line of single use plastic alternatives, a business that supplies to eateries and homes. A change as radical as this for an eco-friendly averse population, this option seemed too difficult to implement, or too expensive and the opposite to restaurants is convenient and cheap, but is hazardous for health and for the environment. Nonetheless, EcoPak supplies compostable and biodegradable birchwood cutlery to Xander’s, Espresso and multiple restaurants across Karachi. “Our products are part of our fight against single use plastic, which leech chemicals when they come in contact with hot food,” said Sameed.


Laying down its foundation in 1994, with founding members only numbering to 20 and spearheaded by Nargis Latif without much fanfare, Gul Bahao initiated as an NGO as an exemplary reaction fueled by excessive burning of waste and the resulting lack of fresh air. “There were several other inclinations and desires in the subconscious which found fulfillment in this work, not least the creative urge to innovate,” says Latif. She states that banning plastic is not the best solution but researching and recycling is. Gul Bahao as an organisation does fundamental work by introducing a pre-fabricated and modular technology, called the Chandni Technology, which can turn waste into raw material for mobile homes, shops and more. “The entire exercise of producing and marketing of the Chandi technology will result in all kinds of plastic waste being carefully collected and reused as essential raw material for quality goods. This will ensure that non bio degradable waste is, (a) not burnt (b) nor thrown into drains and water courses. The time is ripe for a safai/kamai bank. This is what the world needs, to kill two birds with one stone.” Gul Bahao makes homes out of garbage and this technology has the potential for infinite more opportunities. Latif insists that people can sell their garbage instead of dumping it and allowing it to find its way into landfills.


Code Green aims to be a one-stop shop for eco-friendly alternatives for daily use items, with a focus on moving away from single use plastic and wastage. At present, they offer 20+ products and are a proud plastic-free packaging business. With a serious lack of solutions or alternatives for products that the masses are being educated on not using, Code Green took up the initiative to cater to this rising need and demand. Their overarching goal is to use the platform to educate people about the choices they make with regards to our planet and how to be a more mindful consumer. They also post DIYs, even for their own products, because it's better to reuse and upcycle and are active members of environment-related activities that happen in town. “Our practices literally reflect we are at the brink of irreversible damage unless we act now. The environmental issue is an everybody-issue, not just limited to larger corporations. starting small is the first step – if we don't take this as seriously as we should, it could very easily result in a future for our kids where there is more litter, more air pollution and associated health issues, fewer species of animals, even more difficult access to clean water, many more power issues, more dead sea creatures washing to our shores, and actually toxic sea and ocean water,” says founder of Code Green, Emaan Rangoonwala.


The Bees Knees reusable food wraps by Candle Works is an excellent initiative to bid adieu to foil and plastic cling films, and replace with aesthetically pleasing bee wax wraps. “I know it's a very new concept in our country and actually around the world. It's come at a time when the use of plastic and it's negative impact on the environment has in my opinion reached its max. I would hear people talk against plastic and telling us not to use it. My mind always wondered about an alternative. “If not plastic then what?” The Bees Knees became the, “Then what” for me. It gives you the option, a choice,” said business owner Naheed Mooraj. After running a candle business for 24 years, she ventured in an eco-friendly product to give back and help the environment. This product is useable at a large scale; in homes, restaurants, bakeries and more.


TrashIt’s core product is compost made from vegetable, fruit, and leaves waste – an all natural nutritious soil conditioner. They also cater to the demand of sustainable goods with their product line of eco-friendly plastic alternatives which include cloth bag, bamboo toothbrush, stainless steel straws, water bottles, bees knees wraps, produce bags and baskets. “The bigger picture is to create a better waste management system with a focus on circular economy, and in the process we want to engage, empower and educate citizens to be conscious consumers. Our vision is to incentive social good and environmental conscious actions through technology to bring about a massive behavioral change,” says founder Anusha Fatima and winner of She Loves Tech Pakistan. She continues, “We all can play a part. We all must unite in this. From lobbying to putting pressure to taking initiative to being more environment conscious, one must find where they fit in and be proactive about it. The environment is heavily damaged because of mindless intervention of humans. We need to embrace a radically new way of living to be the guardians and protectors.”