RETHINK: IS IT REALLY WASTE?
By Dominique Tudor - Prosource Environmental Ambassador
Have you ever been to a bakery to purchase a pack of salt bread in a plastic bag, and then it is placed in yet another plastic bag? You eat the salt bread and then toss the bag in the garbage, without thinking that it will remain in a landfill for more than 50 years!
I remember the days prior to our current “throw away culture” epidemic, when we chose to practice the resourceful habits that we were taught; for example, we used brown paper instead, which can be composted and easily biodegrade in nature. Our modern lifestyles require packaging to be convenient for the consumer, resulting in natural hazards for our environment, when indiscriminately thrown away. There is no “away”, everything goes somewhere!
It's not all our fault! We don’t make the products that we consume, and manufacturers must also be responsible for what they produce and where it ends up! I’m sure that we have all noticed with disgust, our favourite fast-food brands and our favourite snack wrappers flying across the highway and into a drain. The truth is that we can each make better choices about what we do with many things we consume and throw away.
Where do we start?
Let’s start to Rethink Waste and aim to understand the pillars of waste management!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Repair. We hear these ‘R’ words repeated so often, but do we understand their call to action?
It may sound confusing or feel like an impractical nuisance to many who are just trying to survive the challenges of life. However, these pillars of waste management, put into practice by our citizens may be our only hope to reduce the pollution of our country, and improve the health and wellbeing of our natural environment.
What is Waste?
Waste is a product or substance which is no longer suited for its intended use.
Whereas in natural ecosystems waste (i.e., oxygen, carbon dioxide and dead organic matter) is used as food or a reactant, waste materials resulting from human activities are often highly resilient and take a long time to decompose.
It’s estimated that every person in Barbados throws away an average of 3.5 lbs. of garbage daily. That’s about 400 tons of waste produced by households each day!
Most of the items we throw away, are not waste but valuable resources. For example, a glass bottle can be reused to store drinking water and can last for many years. Plastic bottles can be used as raw materials to make new t-shirts.
What did you think of as waste
that turned out to be a resource?
I think of the reusable water cooler from KFC that I have owned since I was 10 years old, 30 years later I still take it with me to my beach outings!!
I’ve just given away my age, but that’s okay because we all biodegrade and for everything except waste, age is just a number! I have a feeling that my KFC cooler will still be here long after I’m gone from this earth, and that truly is something for us all to ponder.
The next time you use something, think before you throw it away! Remember that everything we throw away has value if it ends up in the right place!!