Because of the quarantine, all of us are staying at our houses. Did you look around your house? “NOT YET!!!”. Then this is the time to do that. STOP reading this for a second. MOVE your eyes around your room. Can you see how many unnecessary items are there to be labeled as waste? Let’s see “WHAT IS WASTE?”
Waste is unwanted materials that are discarded or thrown away after its primary use. People call it garbage or rubbish. Waste is mainly categorized into four types. They are,
• Industrial Waste
• Commercial Waste
• Domestic Waste
• Agricultural Waste
We know the waste problem is becoming a huge headache to the whole world. As science students can we neglect this matter with closing our eyes? No, we cannot. We have to find and start from the root of this matter. I think that is our house. Domestic Waste is acting a huge role in order to increase the Waste problem. These are the types of Domestic waste.
• Liquid rubbish
• Solid rubbish
• Organic rubbish
• Recyclable rubbish
From those kinds, we can easily see the solid rubbish around our environment. If we start to list down that domestic solid waste you will be amazed at seeing a lengthy list. Let us see a categorized list of domestic solid waste. (This data to make the list are collected by 35 university students in Sri Lanka)
- Plastic/ polythene / rubber
Food covers, food wrappings, shopping bags, plastic bottles, soap boxes, DVD covers, writing pens, toothbrushes, plastic brooms, broken dustbins & dustpans, lunch sheets, paint buckets, yogurt cups, spoons, food containers, toothpaste and balm tubes, bobbins, etc..
Aluminum & foil food wrappings, shoe polish containers, tins, blister packs, etc..
Perfume cans, glass bottles, broken bulbs, broken glass ornaments, etc.
- Highly toxic
Old medicine, spray cans, Fertilizers, Pesticides etc….
- E-waste and others
Broken keyboards, USB cables, phone chargers, hard drives, batteries, wires, sanitary items, cosmetic containers, etc..
SEE! We are surrounded by rubbish. Let us take a look at the methods of waste disposal. Most of Sri Lankans used to use,
- Open burning
- Dumping them into the water resources,
to manage their waste.
But using these methods is really bad for both humans and nature. First, we will discuss the effects on animals. Some people dump waste into water resources. It interrupts the life of aquatic organisms. They are facing death. Sometimes we find some people who put their waste on the land. There is a number of deaths of animals because of eating those thrown waste and non-decaying waste. The human is destroying the living right of these animals.
Now, the scientists had found a considerable amount of microparticles of plastic in the air. It will be a huge health problem in the world. Not only in the air, but they had also found them in water resources as well.
If we take look on the roads, we can see many kinds of solid rubbish which are thrown here and there and make the environment ugly. The drainage systems will be blocked because of that waste. That is a major reason for the flood in urban areas. Then the flood makes infectious diseases. See how your wrapping of toffee causes a series of problems.
According to our survey, there are four members in most families in Sri Lanka. Let’s think one person usually uses two lunch sheets per day in order to wrap their breakfast and lunch. Therefore a normal family with 4 members releases eight lunch sheets to the environment daily. If we calculate the number of lunch sheets per twenty days except for the weekends, the family releases 160 lunch sheets to the environment.
Then how we dispose of those lunch sheets? Most of the people are using the method of open burning. Think about the open burning. It directly releases smoke and toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. The human will end up with,
• breathing difficulties
• eye irritation
• problems in the liver, heart, brain, kidney, and lungs.
In order to cure those health problems, people have to spend a huge amount of money and time. It adversely affects to their economy as well.
These improper waste removal methods create soil, air, and water pollution. It increases the number of diseases-carrying pets. The extreme climate change is also an effect of improper rubbish removal.
WHAT WE HAVE TO DO?
THINK! We have to do something. This is the time to think about how we face this problem. First, we can sort our waste as decaying and non-decaying waste. According to our survey, 85.3% percentage of students are doing that procedure. After that, we can use the 5R concept to this problem of waste disposal. This is the 5R concept.
Let us see how can we use this 5R concept in order to make proper waste disposal.
When we go to a shop we can come back to the house with unwanted polythene and shopping bags. We can take a bag with us. Then we can say “NO” to the plastic and polythene. It will help us to manage the waste problem. We must refuse that rubbish to keep our surroundings clean and healthy.
We can reduce single-use materials. They are made for use once and throw then. If we reduce such things the amount of waste will be decreased automatically.
If we do not use reusable materials our waste amount will increase. We must practice reusing things that can be used more than one time. It will help the garbage disposal and will be supportive of the pocket as well.
We can use solid rubbish for another purpose instead of its main purpose. It is called repurposing. We can grow vegetables using waste as the picture above. These glass and metal materials also can be used as decorations. It is a creative method of solving the waste problem.
Ex: Fan Covers/bottles/containers to grow plants.
Glass waste as wall decorations.
Empty tins as pen holders.
Recycling is the most suitable way to manage the waste problem. Sorting waste helps the recycling procedure. After sorting that waste we can give them into the municipal council or a recycling company to recycle them.
From using those methods we can get rid of the problem of waste.
Think about this problem. When we get the solutions and the day when we learn how to apply that solution to the problems, our houses will be Zero waste then.
This article is based on the facts and information gathered by me(Sahashra Dinasiri) and my friend Isira Wijekoon using a mini-online questionnaire and by discussing some references during this pandemic season.
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