Today (March 30), environmentalists around the world commemorate the inaugural International Day of Zero Waste, a day that is designated to spread awareness about the harmful impacts of improper waste management on the environment and also on human health.
The day which is a joint initiative by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), is aimed at promoting a circular economy globally, an economy that is based on recycling existing materials to promote a sustainable environment.
Each year, more than a billion tonnes of waste is generated globally which is expected to increase significantly by 2050.
If the current practices of improper waste management are not addressed, this may pose a major threat to the sustainability of the environment, the economy and lives.
Antonio Guterres, United Nations secretary-general in a media statement today said: ” The waste crisis is undermining the Earth’s ability to sustain life. Waste costs the global economy billions of dollars each year.”
“By treating nature like a dumping ground, we are digging our own graves. It is time to reflect on the toll that waste is taking on our planet – and to find solutions to this gravest of threats.”
How to minimise waste at home
Improper waste management generally begins at home before it is replicated at the workplace, school and public spaces. Therefore in order, to tackle the growing environmental crisis, it is important to go back to the basics of learning the steps for proper waste management practices.
Recycle and reuse
Plastics make up a large portion of waste materials, therefore it is important to limit the use of plastic as best as possible.
One such way is to get into the habit of recycling plastic bottles, containers and other materials at home. Encourage your children to get into the habit of recycling as well by coming up with creative ways to reward them for partaking in the recycling activity.
Likewise, when going to the grocery store, take a reusable bag to prevent the need to buy a new which can also cut back on costs. Limit the need to purchase single-use plastic containers.
Wet vs Dry waste
Waste materials should be separated into two main categories wet waste and dry waste. Wet waste refers to materials that are biodegradable for example vegetables, fruits and other non-usable food materials.
While dry waste refers to non-biodegradable products such as plastics, metals, and among others.
This also allows the recycling process to become much easier.
Create a compost heap
Vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags and other plant materials can be used to create a compost heap.
A compost heap is very simple and easy to construct at a convenient location in the backyard or the farm.
To achieve a nutrient-enriched compost there should be a mixture of brown and green waste materials all in the right proportions. Once the waste materials are broken down the nutrient-rich compost can be added to your garden.
A compost heap is a great way to utilize waste around the house while providing your plants with the required nutrients to flourish.
Get into the habit of fashion upcycling
Fashion upcycling is nothing new, but it not only provides you with a fresh redesign of your favourite garment but also helps to reduce waste.
Fashion redesigning allows you to tap into your creative side, by finding other ways to remodel a favourite clothing item inside of throwing it in the trash.
As UNEP encourages countries to promote a circular environment, fashion upcycling can be a great way for fashion designers and popular clothing companies to reuse clothing scrapes and other materials to create pieces.
Encouraging a sustainable fashion industry helps to preserve the earth’s natural resources while limiting the burden of waste on the environment.
Prepare more home-cooked meals
While more countries are transitioning from the use of styrofoam containers to package their foods, there is still a burden on the environment from single-use packaging.
Instead of eating out at a restaurant, prepare a nutritious meal at home that will help to reduce single-use containers.
This is not only good for the environment but also for your health because you now have greater control over how your food is prepared. Thus, limiting your risk of heart disease and diabetes.