By Luara Garcia
Understand the importance of reducing waste
First thing: waste doesn’t start in your trash can. It starts before arriving at your home: at the markets, stores, shops, wherever you are shopping.
We are using too much stuff and to have all of these things we are using many resources and quickly running out of them. In the past five decades, more than 1/3 of the planet’s resource base has been consumed. 80% of the world’s original forests are gone.
The United States takes up 5% of the world’s population, and uses 30% of the world’s resources and also produces 30% of the world’s waste. If everybody consumed at the U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets.
In the production process, industries mix toxic chemicals to make our products, and also create a lot of pollution. When we discard our trash, it is dumped in a landfill, which is a big hole in the ground, and most of the time, it is burned and then dumped in a landfill.
When toxics chemicals (contained in the trash products) are burned, they turn into new toxics, like dioxin, the most toxic man-made substance known to science. Both of the discard processes pollute the air, land, water and change the climate.
A funny thing to think about is that about 1% of total materials we buy are still in use 6 months after the date of sale. That means that 99% of the stuff we buy is trashed within 6 months.
Each person in the United States produces 41/2 pounds of garbage a day.
These are just some of the reasons why we should stop producing so much waste.
Zero waste life style
Zero waste means not producing any trash, not sending anything to landfills, not throwing anything in a trash can.
This girl in the picture is Lauren Singer. She lives a Zero Waste life in New York. That jar in her hand is all the trash she produced in 3 years.
She decided to start living like this when she was an Environmental Studies major in college, where she saw this girl taking all her food in a lot of plastic bags and trashing it every day, which made Lauren feel frustrated. Then one day when she got home, she opened her refrigerator and looked at all that plastic. She felt like she was that girl and so decided to cut out plastic from her life.
This was the beginning. Today she composts and recycles; she produces her own tooth paste and other products. She goes into organic markets and places where you can use your own jars and bags to “package” things.
Kamikatsu, Japan, is a Zero Waste town. Is it possible?
Well, they are nearly.
Kamikatsu has no garbage trucks, so residents need to compost their kitchen scraps at home. They also have to wash and sort the rest of their trash into 34 different categories, and bring it to the recycling center themselves where workers make sure that the waste goes into the correct bins.
The town has a store where people can leave their old clothing and stuff and exchange them for others that other people have left.
They also have a factory where women make products from discarded products, like teddy bears from old kimonos, or new kimonos from old flags.
With a population just over 1,700, Kamikatsu recycles about 80 percent of its trash and only 20 percent goes to landfills.
The residents of this city take recycling very seriously. They started in 2003 and actually hope to become the nation’s first zero-waste community by 2020.
Tips to start reducing your waste
(These tips are not to become a zero waste lifestyle person; they are little things you can do that will make a big difference, but it is not that hard to change your lifestyle. There will be some links at the end of the article where you can find out more about how to become a zero waste lifestyle person)
- Have your own reusable water bottle; bring it with you everywhere so your not going to need to buy one which you are going to trash after the water is gone.
- Have your own reusable bag for shopping; use it in the markets, stores, so you’re not going to need a plastic or paper one.
- Only buy things you really need, try to use them until they can’t do their job any longer.
- Choose to buy things with less packaging.
- Reutilize as much as you can.
- Prefer to buy organic products when you can; they don’t harm the environment to be produced and you have less to be discarded.
- Remember: you awlays can do something more.
To know more about Lauren Singer and her lifestyle, here are some links that you might like:
To know more about Kamikatisu and its plans:
To know more about the world’s situation and production process (all 21 minutes worth it):