What do we do with all the daily trash, then? Don’t we need to dump stuff we don’t need anymore? What’s wrong with a little waste, you ask?
Humans produce a lot of waste—1.3 billion tons per year, actually. That’s definitely not just a ‘little’ waste.
Waste has been impacting the environment, human health, and the economy for decades now. It is all-encompassing, largely ignored because honestly, when we throw something away, for us it means we will never have to see it again. But where is it all going? There must be some place where it lands. Who is dealing with it? What are the government doing with garbage?
The answer lies in our landfills. Or worse still, the Ocean. Fortunately for the planet, not all items we discard end up in landfills. There are some recycling policies adopted by all nations, though the statistics on these are far less desirable than we would hope for.
There are tiny ripples of revolution everywhere where individuals and families have become more aware of the imminent need for recycling waste, reducing use and reusing things. But is it enough? And how much will be really ‘enough’ when we talk in terms of 1.3 million tons of waste every year?! True, the damage has come far, but it is never too late to begin. Remember the old adage, prevention is better than cure? It can surely apply to waste prevention as well.
Which brings us to our favorite three R’s that we keep talking about (reduce, reuse, recycle) and exactly in that order! There is a reason why we mention ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ before ‘recycle’. That is because reducing our overall consumption and opting instead, for reusable items rather than single-use products will have a significantly better environmental impact than simply recycling.
Where to start then? A good way is with ‘awareness’, notice the waste you are producing on a daily basis and making small changes to your habits to avoid those. Once you do that, it becomes easier to identify ways to reduce and find alternatives.
Eliminate single-use plastic
It’s safe to say that plastic is the biggest demon for the environment. How about a sustainable swap? Choose a bamboo-based toothbrush. Invest in a reusable metal razor with a replaceable, recyclable head, buy cosmetics in smaller sizes and glass resusable containers. Say goodbye to plastic wrap, plastic bags and opt for opt for reusable food containers, fabric pouches and the likes. Carry around your own bottle instead of purchasing one plastic bottle every time. It’s that simple.
Buy durable products, and borrow things you rarely use
Purchase long-lasting clothes, electronics and other houseware items to trash less. What is even better is borrow what you won’t use more than once. If you have children, never shy away from hand-me-downs. Make this a habit - before you buy anything, ask yourself, ‘Is this a thing I need? Or is there something I can repurpose for the same?’ Get creative with gifting. Use pages from magazines or comic books. The list is endless.
Carry your own stuff
If you’re the one who is likely to take home leftovers from a restaurant, bring a reusable container from home rather than asking your server for a new box. If you are ordering in, request the restaurant to leave out disposable utensils, napkins, and condiments you won’t need. A lot of food-delivery apps have that option these days. For your daily grocery run, make sure to carry your own cloth bag. As for packaged foods, try and avoid them. But if you can’t, buy the biggest size possible (check expiry), so that you don’t add to waste with multiple smaller packets.
All of these little steps may seem small, but they add up to big savings. Even though recycling has been the widely followed norm, reducing consumption and waste production is the next level step toward reducing environmental degradation in 2019.
So go REUSE, REDUCE, RECYLE!