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?
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Proper infrastructure for better storage of agricultural products is lacking – again, particularly in developing and under-developed nations.
- 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 –
- Attitudinal change related to our felt connection with nature is required – Need to be inculcated through education and awareness programs.
- 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).
- Clear and focused legislation is the need of the hour – Legal enforcement of an agreed-to waste disposal code is required.
- Infrastructure creation for storage and processing of agricultural and food products, especially the perishable ones, through government and/or private initiatives is required.
- 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.