Interview: SWMRT (creators of Trashonomics)

We talked to the creators of Trashonomics, a best-selling book at

Tell us about Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT).

Solid Waste Management Round Table, Bengaluru (SWMRT) is a voluntary group of individuals, who bring their expertise as SWM practitioners, waste management solution and service providers, representatives of waste-pickers and waste workers, and individual activists, who are collectively working towards the cause of sustainable decentralized waste management in Bangalore since 2009.

How did the idea of Trashonomics come about?

Children are the best changemakers and the Trashnomics school programme aims to empower them to lead the change. It will transform the way they look at trash and help create a new paradigm.

We had initially done a recce of all books related to waste management, including those in the school curriculum. We realized that none of them gave the true picture of the situation we are in vis a vis waste management, beyond brushing over the basics at a macro level.

Tell us a little about the mascot crow in the book?

The crow is a bird that is well known in the Indian context. Being a scavenger bird it is known to keep the surroundings clean.
It supposedly has demonstrated some intelligent characteristics which we saw through some viral videos 🙂 Hence, ‘Kaagey’ the crow!

Are you optimistic that waste management will become more effective in the future? Or to rephrase that do you think children in India can lead the way forward when it comes to caring for the environment?

Yes, we do have high hopes for the new generation as we aim to not only teach waste management but change the mindset. Unfortunately, our generation never thought about garbage as a problem until our landfills started overflowing. We hope that the future generation is more sensitive to the environment and good practices of SWM is inculcated as a habit. Also, we hope that these core topics of waste management addressed in Trashonomics, become part of the state and national curriculum.

You also run workshops. Tell us about the activities there.

The Trashonomics workshop is conducted in three sessions for groups of not more than 50 students in a classroom setting. We chose to conduct it for a smaller audience at the time since we wanted the sessions to be interactive. Also, the students perform practical hands-on activities to help assimilate the subject better. Through these students, we hope to spread the message of responsible waste management.

The book has been translated into multiple languages as well. This is great as the book has more reach across states in India. You could talk about the translation process.

The book is currently available in English, Kannada and Hindi. For Kannada, we hired a professional translator and Hindi was translated by a volunteer. Once translation was complete, we had several volunteers check the content and finally we had the book re-illustrated.

Your experience with self-publishing?

We are very happy with self-publishing since a lot of logistics are under our control. Also, we were able to keep the cost of the book low which was our primary concern and we are pleased that was able to help us with this.

A quick waste management tip?

What is not generated doesn’t need to be managed so our #1 tip is to reduce waste as much as possible. Also, look at your waste as a valuable resource that should reach the correct destination for processing.

The next project you are working on.

Specifically for Trashonomics, we are looking to translate it into many more languages, train more volunteers to conduct sessions and start a student program that can recognize their contribution to sustainability. Our ultimate aim is to include sustainable solid waste management as part of the school syllabus for middle school.

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