We live in a society which produces more waste than any other till date. Think about the number of things you throw in your dumpster each day? Globally, waste volumes are increasing quickly – even faster than the rate of urbanization. The world produces a gigantic 2.12 million tons of waste each year. We need about 1.678 planet earths to absorb our waste and by the year 2030, we will need 2 planets! Waste is mainly a by-product of consumer-based lifestyles that drive much of the world’s economies. The quickest way to reduce waste volumes is to reduce economic activity—not generally an attractive option. Solid waste is the most visible and pernicious by-product of a resource-intensive, consumer-based economic lifestyle. Greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and endocrine disruptors are similar by-products to our urban lifestyles. We say “Throw away that waste”. But where is that ‘away’? We throw away the garbage from our vicinity, the local waste management corporations throw it away in the dumping sites, rivers and oceans! Still, the question remains the same – where is that ‘away’?
In this blog, rather than trying to find out the answer to this question, we will try to figure out the ways to manage the waste in our daily life. After all, prevention is better than cure! Waste management consists of all the activities required to manage the waste from its inception to final disposal. “3Rs”, reduce, reuse and recycle are the most popular strategies of waste minimization. The aim is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste. The strategies are represented as a pyramid, the most favorable option at the top being prevention of waste generation. The remaining options are reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose in that order. As a responsible citizen of this planet, each one of us can contribute to manage the waste. Following are a few ways to tweak your lifestyle a little bit in order to minimize waste in the landfills and promote a naturally healthy living:
Every item in our life takes time, place, energy and money. Take a look around your entire house, Think about things you have not used in the past one year, things which are fancy but of no use, multiple things for single purpose. This is an unnecessary collection which has taken a lot of our time and resources but might be used only for a few times in your lifetime. If we apply Pareto’s Principle, about 80% of the time we use only 20% of this collection! Everything else is a waste! So when shopping next time, think harder about your needs and about the value the product will provide you. Have no mercy on rubbish. Just don’t buy.
Compare durability and number of purposes it can serve while buying an electronic product. Don’t run behind every new feature that is being added every six month. Having a laptop, tablet, kindle and smart phone at the same time is just a waste of money!
Choose to have your bills and bank statements sent to you online, instead of by mail.
Bring your own travel mug to your local coffee shop (and when you’re planning to sit and sip, ask for a mug rather than a paper cup).
When something is broken, try to repair it before buying a replacement.
Shop from the local farmers’ market instead of big stores and cook food at home. This would not only help promote the local farmers but also is a great way to live a healthy life and minimize packaging waste.
Use loose leaf teas with a French press or a sieve instead of tea bags.
Do not renovate or change furniture just because you got bored of it.
Use cloth napkins, towels, and rags for cleaning and wipe ups in the kitchen and everywhere else. You can easily up-cycle your old clothes for this use.
Similarly, use reusable bags for grocery and stop the use of plastic bags altogether. Trust me; these plastic bags are one of the biggest sources of waste.
Collect and reuse leftover glass jars and bottles as food storage containers. They are more durable than plastic bags, leak less, reduce odors in the refrigerator, and keep moths out of dry goods in the cupboard.
Invest in rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. You can run almost anything, from flashlights to digital cameras, with rechargeable batteries. In the long run it is cheaper and better for the environment.
Buy reusable water bottles rather than plastic bottles.
Have your printer ink cartridges refilled instead of purchasing new ones.
If you need an item for a short time only, see if you can borrow it from someone.
Get a reusable coffee filter to replace your paper filters.
Save and reuse all gift bags and tissue paper from gifts that you receive.
Learn to creatively re-purpose things you don’t need any more.
By choosing to recycle all paper products that come into your home and making a point to buy only post-consumer recycled paper products, you become part of the solution instead of the problem.
Composting – Learn how to compost your kitchen and garden waste. This will not only reduce the waste but also, help to increase the nutrients of your garden soil. See this video on how to make a compost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7IM5sWl9GY .
Grass cycling is an excellent way of recycling grass cuttings after mowing the lawn. Simply leave the cuttings on the ground instead of throwing them away, they will turn into nutrients and act as a fertilizer in the soil.
Buy products that can be recycled. When shopping at the supermarket, buy products that can be recycled easily such as glass jars and tin cans.
Avoid buying products which contain hazardous material. It is difficult to recycle products that contain hazardous waste. Try to find safer alternatives to household cleaners and buy non-toxic products whenever possible.
Make sure you have a recycle bin in your home. Keep it in an obvious place so you won’t forget to use it.
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What a Waste: Global Review on Solid Waste Management – 2012 -The World Bank.
 "United Nations Statistics Division - Environment Statistics". unstats.un.org. Retrieved 3 March 2017
More about the author: GARIMA GUPTA