“Practice Zero waste living” is the buzz word now and I am into it. My interest is shooting up day by day and taking me to a new exciting level of life. Reading about environmental protection is opening a new window every day. It can be about protecting the air we breathe or the water we drink or it can be about the forest around us or the ocean far off. The pollution is everywhere, eating up all the natural bodies. One more problem around the corner, nowadays, is for the residents of megacities who are facing great difficulty in disposing of the solid wastes. Me too, banging head on walls every day with the overflowing bins of dry and wet wastes. Every morning, I make sure that the bins are cleaned and the wastes are thrown away properly. India is a country of 1.3 billion and I am talking about the waste that my house generates! Ridiculous? Nope. Just imagine how much solid wastes the nation generates every day? According to the Press Information Bureau, India generates 70 million tonnes of waste (mixed waste containing both recyclable and non-recyclable waste) every year. In India, 70 per cent of total plastic consumption is discarded as waste. Around 5.6 million tonnes per annum (TPA) of plastic waste is generated in the country, which is about 15,342 tonnes per day (TPD). Every day Delhi produces around 10,000 metric tonnes of solid waste – roughly the weight of the Eiffel Tower. Official estimates predict that in five years the waste produced by the city will almost double to 18,000 tonnes a day.
What are solid wastes after all? These are composed of nonbiodegradable and non-compostable materials generated from industrial, domestic, commercial, mining and agricultural operations. Solid wastes may be solid, semi-solid, liquid and containing gaseous material which can be hazardous or non-hazardous; toxic or non-toxic. Solid wastes refer to the garbage arising from human or animal activities and are discarded as useless materials.
Usually, the solid wastes are collected by municipality and corporation workers and dumped into the landfills. If the wastes are nonhazardous then they can be dumped on the ground. Otherwise, the hazardous and toxic wastes should be treated well before dumping or should be disposed of by following the recommended methods. The disposal methods are to be strictly followed as the pollution caused by the solid wastes can be life-threatening. The landfills which are actually the dumping grounds for solid wastes release lots of methane gas which pollute the air and contribute to global warming. The liquid wastes can leach to ground and can contaminate the groundwater and the soil. Also, the dirt not only gives rise to lots of harmful germs and microorganisms which are conducive to various diseases but also invite rodents and insects. Solid wastes carelessly thrown in streets, highways, and alleyways can cause pollution when they are carried off by rainwater run-offs or by flood water to the main streams, as these contaminating residues reach larger bodies of water, polluting rivers and oceans.
The number of solid wastes is increasing day by day with population growth, urbanization and industrialization. There are mountainous landfills, overloaded with the unwanted products of man’s greed, sometimes reminding us about our so-called progress. We could successfully destroy this planet, took away its beauty and filled the beautiful nature with the garbage. We really have no idea about the biodegradability of the materials we use daily, nor do we care enough to know the truth! We just buy things to meet our need and greed, sometimes throwing away the pieces of stuff without using them or donating them, recycling doesn’t flash once in the mind. Sounds ridiculous in this century? Maybe!
The things which are non-biodegradable, reach to the beaches, ocean water, river bodies, contaminate soil, farmlands- they spread almost everywhere. There are fewer ways to manage solid wastes – Recycle and Reuse but the most effective one may be REDUCE.
Reduce: At home, you can begin by purchasing things with lesser packaging, more durable & refillable items, carry your own shopping bag, avoid disposable items and reduce the use of plastics. At the office, one can cut down on paperwork, use electronic mail for communication. Digitalisation must be done seriously to save the trees and this planet. Reduce consumption- change lifestyle.
Reuse: You can donate your old clothes, books, phones and lots more. You can reuse old bottles, jars as storage bins and buy rechargeable items rather than disposable ones. Stop using disposable plates, cups, glasses, spoons, pens or anything which you can use only once. Convert old clothing into napkins, towels, mops, doormats etc. You can get many ideas about reusing and recycling from DIY videos.
Recycle: Segregate your waste for better disposal and purchase recycled/ green products. A ton of paper from recycled material conserves about 7,000 gallons of water, 17-31 trees, 60 lb of air pollutants and 4,000 KWh of electricity. You can recycle or compost your organic waste directly at the source- leaving very little waste to reach the landfill.
Somethings are very important which need everyday discussions. Hence, I have decided to come back to you soon with more things on environmental protection.
Till then, try some recycling of plastic bottles by watching the video I shared with you all.
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