Sugandhabai's Page

Hello! I am Sughandhabai. I am a waste picker, and a SWaCH member. This is my page and I want to use this space to introduce you to my friends and to the work that we all do. Actually, you’ve probably seen me dozens of times in your neighbourhood – but we never had time to talk, did we?  So let’s talk now! You probably have questions – for example, what exactly do SWaCH members do ? Well, I can answer that easily ! Just come with me as I take you through a typical day :

A Day in My Life


A day in my life
What does a typical working day for a SWaCH member look like?

A SWaCH member’s normal work day begins at 6.00 am or earlier. She sets off to work after finishing her daily chores of cooking, cleaning and washing.

She reports to her work place at around 8. 00 am and ensures that her daily attendance is recorded by the supervisor.

From 9.00 to 1.00 pm she goes door to door and collects waste from citizens. In some places, she collects the waste at the gate. In others, she has to go from house to house, or up and down the steps in highrise apartment buildings. She segregates wet and dry waste as she collects it.
Your waste picker often has to push her cart over steep slopes and narrow lanes, over uneven roads and even through dangerous traffic.


SWaCH has provided driving training to some of the members – like the one in this picture who drives the collection tempo.

The SWaCH waste collector also hands over the segregated wet/dry waste to the ‘ghanta gaadi’ – the corporation’s collection truck. She needs to be very fit to climb up on to the truck and hoist those heavy buckets!

After handing over the waste to the truck, it is time to wash and have lunch… Some time to talk and laugh before the afternoon’s tasks.

Afternoon is sorting time! Space is always a constraint. Sometimes the waste collector sits within housing societies...

... or in a designated, sheltered sorting area…

But these spaces are rare to find, so the majority of waste pickers sit on the roadside, or under trees or next to containers, to sort dry waste -- completely exposed to the elements at all times! Sometimes, the waste picker creatively makes her own shelter and storage space…

Here, she sorts waste into several categories – like plastic, paper/cardboard, cloth, leather, metal, etc. Each of these categories gets further sub-divided according to its recyclability and the use it will be put to later – and you have to be an expert to do this fine sorting! For example, let’s take plastic. The plastic we throw away is carefully divided into :
Main : All kinds of coloured plastic bags.
Kadkadi : PET bottles, Bisleri bottles, plastic jars, ice creams cups, etc.
Phuga : dirty/broken plastic bottles, low grade plastic, broken plastic toys, Parachute oil bottles, Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles, etc.
Each is kept in a different pile to be later sold to the scrap dealer who offers different rates for different kinds of waste.


After sorting dry waste for over 3 hours, it is bundled up and stored. About once a week, it is taken to the scrap dealer and sold...

The waste picker has to make sure that the scrap shop owner weighs correctly and gives a fair price for the scrap. SWaCH has been in a dialogue with scrap shop owners to ensure a more cooperative working relationship.

Whew! The day is finally over and its time to go back home to the family... to cook, clean, fill water and hopefully – rest!

Keep informed about current issues, campaigns and events through the SWaCH Newsletter. Contact us here to subscribe   
Events & Campaigns
  Come and present your inspired ideas for how we can rethink e-waste and, in particular, spread awareness about e-waste disposal in ways that are outside traditional approaches.    
SWaCH in the News
  Indian Express, October 2, 2016. Maharashtra : Ragpickers cooperative gets award  
India Today, Safaigiri Awards - 2016 ( Video )
Sakal ( Pune Feature )
October 1, 2016
  Deshdoot, October 1, 2016  
  Indo-San award for SWaCH Organisation - The Times of India, October 3, 2016
  The Times of India
( Pune ) Sep 15, 2016
  Indian Express
September 12, 2016
  Indian Express
September 12, 2016
  The Times of India (Pune)
Sep 13 2016
  MaharashtraTimes (Pune)
Sep 12 2016
  Sakal Times
10 / 09 / 2016

NGOs pitch in for management of waste during Ganesh idol immersion
  The Goldensparrow
05 Aug, 2016
  Waste-pickers get no protection from the rain  
  Maharashtra Times
Aug 7, 2016
  The Times of India
Sept 29, 2015
  Over 500 tonnes of nirmalya collected in 10-day festival  
Sept 29, 2015
  42 Thousand kg nirmalya collected by Swach  
Sept 28, 2015
  Classification of nirmalya by Swach  
Sept 25, 2015
  7th day of ganpati visarjan 17 Thousand kg nirmalya collected  
Sept 24, 2015
  7th day of visarjan 16 Thousand kg. nirmalya Collected  
Sept 19, 2015
  Swach ready for nirmalya collection.  
Sept 18, 2015
  Nirmalya collection of initiative to swach  
  Maharashtra Times
Sept 04, 2015
  Nirmalya project call for volunteers  
  I am dna of Pune
Sept 04, 2015
  Be a swach volunteer, help collect nirmalya during Ganesh visarjan  
  The Times of India
Sept 03, 2015
  Ganeshotsav `nirmalya' target higher  
  Sakal Times
July 25, 2015
  The PMC to finally set up garbage shed on Baner Road  
  Sakal Times
August 15, 2015
  The Fees hiked for trash collection  
  The Indian Express
August 14, 2015
  The SWACH is the first co-operative of wastepickers in the country  
  The New York Times
JULY 29, 2015
  Scavengers Are India's Real Recyclers  
  From A Ragpicker To An International Labour Speaker, Here's Suman More's Inspiring Journey!  
  Loksatta 29.04.2015  
  Times of India 29.03.15
With industries privatizing waste collection through contractors and companies, waste pickers in the city have said that access to recyclables was ...
  The Indian Express 6.11.14
Swach gets parliamentary committee's thumbs-up
  The Indian Express 31.10.14
Waste-picker from city attends international convention, meets Pope Francis
  Sakal Times 07.11.14
Meeting Pope was memorable : Waste picker Rebecca
  Times News Network
Waste collector from city meets Pope Francis
  DNA 5.11.14
From rags to recognition : A waste picker's struggle for basic rights
  DNA 3.11.14
For ragpickers, Pope is their hope
  Surfing their way into the mainstream  
  Midday 17.10.14
They plan to beat music out of junk
  Loksatta 02.09.14
Remember to give your Nirmalya to Swach members
  TOI 20.08.14
Change mindsets to change cities say wastepickers
  The Indian Express 13.08.14  
  Waste pickers demanding pre-matric scholarship for their kids end strike  
  TOI 09.08.14  
  Pune Municipal Corporation not providing gear: SWaCH  
  TOI 06.05.14  
  SWaCH to scale up e-waste collection  
  HINDU Survey of Environment 2013
Picking a brighter future
  Midday 26.06.13
NGOs tie up with schools for environmental awareness
  IE 12.07.13
Green school programme launched to spread awareness among school children
  N Y Times blog
Out of India's Trash heaps, more than a shred of dignity
  HT 06.07.13
South Civic body eyes Pune Model for garbage solution
  TOI 06.07.13
Ragpickers resolve sanitation dilemma
  Newspaper Archives