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cow eating trash in Jaipur market, India; urban waste

Urban Waste and Its Effects on Animals

September 4, 2023 - By Kothari Vinesh, Age 15, US

Kothari is a high school student in the United States. He’s a children’s book author of a novel that focuses on sustainability and an amateur wildlife photographer with a focus on urban impacts. The following photos were taken in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, and aim to highlight the negative effects of improper trash disposal on animals.

Jaipur, where both of my parents are from, is one of the most visited places in India due to its historic forts and great climate. Bustling markets, thriving food bazaars, and monumental buildings contribute to the popularity of the city, but not without some costs. Street trash, consisting of single-use plastic bottles, food waste, wrappers, and other forms of packaging, pile high on the streets and near residential homes. Landfills, or makeshift ones, are open to the roads, and most green space has been taken away, forcing animals to rummage through our own trash for their food tonight. Over 31 megatons of trash remain in waste yards and on the streets in India yearly, according to the International Trade Administration.

cow eating trash in Jaipur market, India

A cow eating through a trash pile in Jaipur, India. Photo: Kothari Vinesh.

This image was taken near one of the busiest markets in Jaipur. The sight is all too common to see. Cows, dogs, birds, most animals do not have access to natural sources of food, and are pressured to eat food waste as their main source of nutrition. This food barely compares to their natural diet, and oftentimes, many animals end up dying of starvation.

This may seem too gloomy to fix, but other cities have pulled it off, and rather quickly. Indore, another city in MP, India, has been voted as the cleanest city, but up until 2015, it was in a similar state to Jaipur, Rajasthan.

So what changed? The government and the people noticed the problem and started to get more involved. They started placing fines on people who littered and made a system for door-to-door trash removal to ensure proper waste collection. After 2015, there was a dramatic decrease in urban trash, and it set an example to cities around the country that small changes can dramatically alter trash disposal and urban waste.

Cities around the world suffering from increasing amounts of trash flowing on their streets can use Indore as an example. The problem is completely solvable, and with the correct steps, can be done quickly and effectively, helping not only humans, but also the innocent animals that roam the streets of our urbanised world.

Featured image by Kothari Vinesh.

You might also like: Plastic Roads: An Innovative Solution to Reduce Waste

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