by Hinal Kharva – Have you heard the word sustainability? There are many definitions given to this particular term. One of the oldest and easiest is described in the 1987 Report of the Brundtland Commission, where sustainable development is defined as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” While we need multi-pronged approaches for a sustainable living, in this blog I will start one of the issues –
Waste (more particularly plastic) Management.
Have you ever wondered how much waste we generate every single day? I am sure everyone has seen big dump yards somewhere around on the road. Where does all this waste material end up? Does it degrade or get recycled? For materials like many plastics, the answer is nothing. Depending on the variety, plastic materials thrown in the garbage may take many years to degrade, ranging from 10 to 400 years. Waste management has become a really important issue in current times, not only in India, but all over the world. Landfills are filled with non-degradable materials. Many animals and birds end up eating these materials and suffer from illness and even death. There are many scary numbers associated with plastic waste, but in this blog let’s not talk about the problems, rather the solutions. A golden mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Any person can contribute to these solutions by following few simple rules in our day-to-day life.
1) Carry your own cloth bag when you go out for shopping. Say no to plastic. If we stop buying it, the production will automatically go down. As an alternative, you can also use biodegradable bags.
2) Instead of throwing food waste in dustbins, you can make your own compost at home. What is compost? In simple words it is just decayed organic material used as a fertilizer for growing plants.
One can easily make compost from daily items. Fruit peels, outer vegetable skins, cooking waste, dead flowers, your hair and nails, used cotton balls, egg shells, your pet cat or dog’s hair. When you clean your house the dust or hair lying on the floor all can go in compost. However, remember plastic waste won’t degrade, so exclude it.
All you need is big clay pot with the lid. You can add clay at the bottom and even in between layers. You can also buy big bins depending upon how much degradable waste you generate. Make sure you close it properly, as it shouldn’t be accessible to rats or other animals. There are multiple resources available on the internet for making compost.
Here is a link for example: https://www.ndtv.com/photos/news/5-simple-steps-to-turn-household-waste-into-compost-24227#photo-298129
3) Collect paper and plastic in separate waste-bins. Find a nearby Junk or Scrap dealer. They will buy these paper, plastic and glass items and sell them to the recycling companies. You will earn a small amount for not dumping this recyclable material into the dustbin!
4) The commonly available pads in the market have some plastic components, which is why it takes 200-400 years to degrade these pads in landfills. Nowadays due to growing awareness biodegradable pads are available in the market. These pads are degraded much faster (usually 30 to 40 days in the natural environment). You can also use menstrual cups which are easy to clean and are reusable.
5) One of the ways of reducing waste is to stop using “use-and-throw” products. For example, use a handkerchief instead of tissue paper. The number of people using tissue paper has drastically increased in India from last 5 years. In every restaurant to public space, the wastage is really high. If you are worried about hygiene, use tissues, but please do not forget to make sure that they get recycled.
6) Do you pack your leftover food in restaurants? How about carrying your own reusable box for this packaging? Use of paper and plastic for food packing has also increased to a worrisome levels in the recent years of online food delivery. Carrying a tiffin to pick up food from the restaurant used to be our practice for many years, but it is dying due to use-and-throw plastic-based packing materials.
So, what do you think? Are these solutions very difficult to follow? If not all, start with at least one of these things in your daily life. Considering the population of our country. At times it is difficult to imagine a ground-breaking change. However, remember, famous anthropologist Jane Goodall says “every individual makes a difference”.
Note: The products mentioned here are commonly found in local as well as online stores. Ask around, stay informed, and spread the awareness. 🙂