Topic :- MY WASTE, MY RESPONSIBILITY
REDUCING PAST, REUSING PRESENT, RECYCLING FUTURE
The ‘Zero waste movement’ starter Bea Johnson has said “ Refuse what you do not need ; reduce what you do need ; reuse what you consume ; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse ; and rot (compost) the rest.” Now, here lies our responsibility.
Plastic was invented hundreds of years ago and every piece of plastic that has been produced can never be degraded ever in life. There is no known for environmentally safe procedure to degrade plastic. Scientists and engineers estimate that one gram of plastic requires at least 450 years to degrade, that is today’s used plastic will still be existing for the next five to six generations. It is a looming threat without proper management.
In Gorakhpur city, Raghini ,lives with her husband and two children and together generates few kilograms of waste daily in a nearby vacant place. This has led to several skin diseases to her family members due to water contamination. But on the other hand Vijayalakshmi of Alappuzha and her family generate double amount of waste but is happy and healthy because unlike Raghani ,she follows a proper waste management system. She segregates the waste into wet and dry waste and uses wet waste for composting while dry waste for recycling. So, the main issue is not about ‘waste generation’, but about ‘waste management’.
Waste management is a thriving issue and is one of the biggest challenges that the whole world is facing these days. Wastes are ‘hazard’. Currently about 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste are produced annually worldwide. The world bank estimate overall waste generation will increased to 3.40 million metric tons by 2050. The report estimates that between one-third and 40% waste generated worldwide is not managed properly and instead dumped or burnt openly. This leads to water contamination, soil pollution, loss of biodiversity, etc.
The effect of wrong trash disposal has several aspects. It impacts the climate, nature, wildlife, ecosystem and public health. The way we dispose off waste is ‘troubling’ and careless.
“My waste , my responsibility”, is the mantra for ‘no dumping’ started by an organisation. The focus is not to dump and segregated, non recyclable, and non-biodegradable waste openly. Here “We” include all who are generating waste – household, industries, hospitals, etc. It is indeed our responsibility. We are one’s generating them, we should be the one’s properly disposing them.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change notified the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) 2016. The main highlights of the SWM rules are segregation at source, collection and disposal of sanitary waste, collect back scheme for packing waste, user fees for collection, waste processing and treatment, promoting the use of compost and promotion of ‘waste to energy’ , etc.
There are several types of wastes that are not easily degradable but easily pose threat to the environment; plastic leading the list , it continues to e-wastes like scrapped computers, phones , batteries and other electronics , clinical wastes like infected and used cottons, tools, medicines and others ; and beauty wastes. Improper disposal of these wastes can cause dangerous and contagious health threats like infections , cholera , dysentery , typhoid , asthma, flu, and in worst cases ‘cancer’.
Global food waste is a far reaching problem with tremendous financial, ethical and environmental costs. An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) of United Nations. The amount of food lost or wasted cost 2.6 trillion USD annually and is more than enough to feed all the 851 million hungry people in the world – four times over.
Its high time now that we carry out our duties as responsible individuals. The solution to waste management cannot be implemented by the government officers sitting in their offices. “ Charity begins at home”. We should start from our home.
Firstly, we should perform ‘segregation of waste at source’ into solid, liquid, organic and inorganic waste at disposal. Plastic wastes should be refused and organic and inorganic waste used in domestic composting.
Secondly, there should be enough awareness and educational programs about the impending threat of plastic in our society.
Thirdly, the government should set up recycling plants in every nook and corner of a country so that the wastes recycled as soon as they are generated, there by reducing dumping and chances of pollution. The people must realise that the toxic and harmful waste that they had been dumping how many years will eventually come back to them through air, water or food, if not managed properly.
Reducing food loss and waste is essential in a world where millions of people go hungry everyday. On the fourth note, it’s up to us to change our habits to make ‘not wasting food’ a way of life. We should only buy what we need and try to consume the full of it without any waste. With a small act of generosity, all the edible and readymade food should be shared with the needy, before it expires.
Last but not the least, untreated waste disposal should be stopped. Industries and factories dump certain toxic wastes and oils in oceans, harming the aquatic life on the planet. When this aquatic life is consumed by humans, these wastes enter our body, this way the entire food chain is poisoned. These have several catastrophic effect on human health. Several treatment should be initiated and wastes should be treated and made hazardless before leaving them into the ocean.
To conclude, management of wastes cannot be done effectively without the co-operation of every single citizen. The government can only set up a system, but the responsibility of working, implementation and success of the system lies on the shoulders of us. Several national and international organizations have come together to raise funds, formulate proper laws and policies to prevent improper disposal into our ecosystem. The responsibility lies on us. By fulfilling our duty towards mother Earth, as responsible citizens, lets take a leap forward towards a better nature, for a better future.