Waste and how to deal with it

Waste

Waste are all materials or objects that stop having its primary use and are therefore thrown away. Food, plastic, paper, metal or whatever, it has to go somewhere and we usually choose to not think about that place. Nobody likes to see piles of waste, dissolving, fermenting growing in nature…right? Sometimes we like to think our waste is being recycled (with a lot of cases it is not good enough to recycle) and hopefully, we are recycling the food waste, so it turns into the soil again. In most cases, waste would scatter around by humans, wind or animals, where it breaks down in microscopic pieces or chemical components, which are harming ecosystems, the health of animals and humans.

Ever thought about what we need to do to create all those notebooks, reading books or even toilet paper? And how much chemical waste we create by making new computers, shoes, plastic water bottles or cars? Let’s think about how to eliminate waste in our daily life.

First step: Eliminate the waste to the extent that we find comfortable and it doesn’t cause us suffering.

Often we would just like to blame it on companies, that create products in the packaging which doesn’t dissolve and think that there is no solution or change coming soon. But even if everybody would stop using few privileged products in their life, the waste would be much smaller than it is now.

“This is an oceanic mess of an unprecedented degree. Because the billions of pounds of trash are dispersed over so much of the open ocean, it cannot be dragged in, and because it contains so many types of garbage- including microplastics that have broken down because of saltwater and sun exposure, some of it cannot even be gathered. And plastic never fully degrades, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. According to the EPA, every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence.” Green living ideas

Our footprint on waste in daily life

On Eurostat scale from the year 2014 shows average waste per person in Europe is 4,9 tonnes. 47 % of waste ended on a landfilled and 36% was recycled.

Waste during travel

Quick snacks for the road, water bottles, cigarettes, food to go, tampons, toilet paper, diapers, staws, single-use packaging (like coffee cups for example: plastic and paper mix which is really hard to recycle in environmentally friendly way), chemicals in our plastic bags while shopping fruit, vegetables, gifts or other material goods that come in plastic. Another one is eating food from restaurants, where a lot of waste is created by making your meal. Last and biggest: transportation.

REDUCE AND REUSE

Follow these few easy steps for better future of our lives and planet.

Say no to the straw

Choose a metal plate instead of reusable one on the street food stands or bring your own plate –Stop eating street food in throw away packaging

Start drinking only drinks in the glass that is being recycled after

Make your own products or buy them loose in your own container.

Buy a bottle for filtering water instead of 1080 plastic bottles a year (1080-360=720 in case we drink 1 liter of filtered water every day). You could reuse your old plastic bottle and refill it with filtered water instead of buying a new one.

Buy food in containers that are good for reuse

Shift from chemical cleaning products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste… ) to ayurvedic, natural products or even better, create your own from an organic product you can get a hand on around you.

Use the moon-cup or reusable sanitary pads for menstruation.

Buy loose tobacco and unbleached paper with paper filters

Motivate the restaurants where you eat to separate their waste and turn it into a resource Recycle food that is being thrown away from the markets or restaurants

Consider using transportation that creates less pollution (Walk, Cycle, Hitchhike, jump on a sailing boat, share a ride, get a bus, train and in the end consider every time you use a plain or a cruise ship).

I know.. I named plenty, but many small steps make a big one.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE »WASTE« WE ARE CREATING AFTER ALL?

I am writing this while traveling in Asia, where 63% of the world’s waste is being created, so the impact you can do here is much bigger than at the countries where recycling is already taken care of to some extent. In Europe, for example, you can throw your trash into a recycling bin and it will be taken to the recycling station. But what do you do in Asia, where only 8 countries (Indonesia, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand) create 63% of the total waste flowing into the oceans?

Traveling in rural areas created a big impact on my view towards trash. In India, there are only a few recycling stations and most of the waste doesn’t even get there. So in most cases, the waste would be burned on the street in front of everybody’s eyes, or just thrown in the nearest dumping place. I should not forget to mention that India was doing really good with their use of plastic before the British came and increased the use of plastic packaging tremendously.

Upcycling

Using the old discarded materials and turning them into something useful or beautiful.

Recycling

Converting waste into new usable objects or resource.

Let’s say that you are traveling in India and you are creating waste by doing that everywhere you go. The first step is the realization of how much waste we actually create, where do we throw it and where does that go after? In India, 75% of the municipal garbage is being dumped without processing.

To realize how much waste we create on the go, we could pick up a plastic bottle and start stuffing our trash in the eco-bricks. That way we are being aware of all types of waste we are creating. The better solution would be separating our waste in Packed bricks as the Guardians of the Himalayas program is presenting, so those could be used as a resource.

Eco-bricks

Eco-bricks are bricks, building material created by waste. With them, we can build chairs, tables or even walls. But we should keep in mind what kind of binding material we use (metal on concrete) and how long our new formed objects will last. In eco-bricks is we can even use the trash we find on the floor but is that the best way that works in long term? The positive side is we stopped the trash from being scattered or dissolved into microscopic pieces all around the area, stuffed it into a smaller place where it can’t escape into the soil and reused it as a building material.

You can read more about Eco-bricks and where to drop them on the official Eco-brick site: https://www.ecobricks.org/

Since that was the best solution we found at the moment, while living in nature at gatherings, we continued to spread the education in the rural areas as we went on, collecting trash from the streets, packing it into bottles and using them to make chairs.

Now it is time to move on to the next step and pack those bricks in the right way.

Let’s say we picked up a lot of trash in a clean-up action, stuffed it in the brick and used it as a building material, after some time the house we made will need to be rebuilt, so we end up with a pile of trash that is really far from being a good recycling material. We could as well call them waste bricks when we are using the dirty trash. But while we are using clean trash separated into different types of plastic, we can call that a resource, and that’s where the Trash to Cash program from Guardians of Himalayas comes in.

Trash to cash program is all about the shift in perspective, that waste is not waste but a resource. And the resource is worth Cash.

This program tackles plastic packaging, the resource from the source, simple and easy where we divert the flow of plastic packaging from mixed waste bin to its own clean and dry collection bin. These plastics are then being separated into three categories. Plastics, Aluminium plastic laminates and cigarettes filters and packing them into PET water bottles. These packed water bottles are valuable like cash.

Alan Bywaters, founder of Trash to Cash program

Check out more about the program on the Facebook site: Guardians of Himalayas

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