Ms. Sonali Malik, one of the youngest staff members at ICLEI South Asia

A project officer at ICLEI South Asia, Ms. Malik believes that her work with cities in the area of sustainability has left a mark in her personal life too. “Working in the field of sustainability has made me more aware and conscious towards my lifestyle. Most of my actions and decisions now also consider the probable impacts on the environment, along with other factors such as convenience, feasibility and affordability,” she says.

Tell us about your journey with the organisation, the projects you have been associated with and the skills that have helped you pave your path.

My journey of more than two years in the organisation has been quite interesting and inspiring. I got the opportunity to engage in a variety of projects focusing on climate change mitigation, sustainable urban development and waste management, where I could apply my skills and further enhance my knowledge. I also got a chance to visit many cities located in different regional settings and interact with a variety of stakeholders, starting from local communities to government officials. This helped me understand the nature of environmental issues that exist in various cities and how these cities are/should be coping with them.

ICLEI has provided me with a great platform to follow my passion on adopting environmental sustainability.

How has your work in the area of sustainability helped you in your personal life? Please give an example.

Working in the field of sustainability has made me more aware and conscious towards my lifestyle. Most of my actions and decisions now also consider probable impacts on the environment along with factors like convenience, feasibility and affordability. My work in the field of sustainability has made me more sensitive towards the little things we come across in our daily lives such as energy saving, water saving, and reducing and reusing waste.

I am determined to reduce my environmental footprint as much possible. For this, as an initial step, I have planned to initiate bio-composting using a Khamba (the the-pot equipment for composting kitchen waste) at my own house and further use the fresh compost in my own plants for growing organic vegetables.

Solid waste is your key area of work. How do you think a common man can contribute to the agenda of sustainability by managing waste better?

Common man can very easily contribute to increasing the efficiency of waste management without much effort and time. To start with, if every household in a city slightly change their waste storage and disposal habits and provide segregated waste to the waste collectors, many issues with respect to waste management will be resolved. The efficiency of waste collection, transportation and processing system is largely dependent on the extent of waste segregation. Despite of it being mandatory for all households according to the MSW Rules, segregation is not practised, mostly due to lack of awareness.

Similarly, other small changes in the lifestyle, such as reducing use of or reusing plastic waste and other waste could have significant impacts. It works like the butterfly effect, where even a small localized change in a system can have large effects. 

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