‘Why we waste…and what can be done to reduce it”? – Based on discussion held during UNESCO-IHE course on SWM

Talking about waste is crucial in these times – one because it follows us everywhere; and secondly, it can be treated as a resource!

Why We Waste and that too so much?

  1. We think ‘short-term‘: Future impacts of current resource use and waste generation on us and environment are not factored in the present costs of goods; raw materials and labor from certain communities of world is exploited for manufacturing of such goods; All these ‘externalized costs’ are not reflected in the price we pay.
  2. There is a change in the economic and cultural scene – ‘Use and throw’, ‘buy first, think later’, showing off of material wealth etc. is the essence of the prevailing consumerist culture; This is encouraged by the availability of cheap, inferior-quality goods meant for short use (Planned obsolescence – designed for the dump) and the rapidly changing trends in fashion etc. glorified in advertisements (Perceived obsolescence).
  3. Little or no institutional thrust (in terms of economics and legality) exists to make waste creation a negative activity and waste recovery a positive one –   Particularly in developing and under-developed societies; Laws and policies here can help for instance, incentives for recycled products and penalty for violators of waste-disposal code.
  4. Proper infrastructure for better storage of agricultural products is lacking – again, particularly in developing and under-developed nations.
  5. There is little or no awareness about ill-effects of waste

What can we do about it?

Solutions are hidden in the causes listed above –

  1. Attitudinal change related to our felt connection with nature is required – Need to be inculcated through education and awareness programs.
  2. Pro-active, long-term government policies are required – Through a ‘carrot-stick policy’, citizens and industries can be stimulated to own responsibility (also as discussed in point 3 above).
  3. Clear and focused legislation is the need of the hour – Legal enforcement of an agreed-to waste disposal code is required.
  4. Infrastructure creation for storage and processing of agricultural and food products, especially the perishable ones, through government and/or private initiatives is required.
  5. Public environmental education and awareness campaigns are crucial –  This is about ill-impact of waste on us, if left unattended to and untreated and the urgent need to address the issue of waste generation and management.

Source: Views shared by participants of Online Course of Solid Waste Management, UNESCO-IHE.

 

 

 

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