Let's talk Rubbish
I bought a new hairdryer a little while ago. It wasn’t until after I had unpacked it that I realized what had happened.
I didn’t just buy a hair dryer, I had also bought
- plastic wrap
- harder plastic to hold it in place so that it displayed nicely on the shelf
- Plastic prong cover (tiny bit of plastic that covers the plug)
- a reusable carry bag (also made of mostly plastic material)
The hairdryer itself was made of plastic, which some of you may think…’That’s ok, you’re going to use it a lot, so it doesn’t matter.’
Which is what I used to think too…but…what happens to my old hair dryer? Which was also made of plastic, that still has to go somewhere!
In my case, the old hair dryer won’t be going to the dump just yet, it will eventually be donated to a second-hand shop, because it still works (I just misplaced it a few months back while moving city).
Which is also a problem in itself…because I didn’t think twice about creating double the amount of unnecessary waste just because I couldn’t find the first lot!
We now live in a world of disposable, one use items. A world where a second thought isn’t given to throwing away a plastic straw, a plastic bag or an empty roll on deodorant. If we misplace something it’s alright just to buy another.
It’s become the norm.
A world where even items that are reused (but are bigger, so take up more space when they eventually get thrown out) are made of a material that doesn’t break down once disposed of, (or takes 500+ years.)
I recall seeing photos when I was growing up of landfills (some right next to cities), and I used to think ‘Wow! I’m so glad I don’t live somewhere like that.’
What I didn’t understand at the time (and a lot of people still don’t) was, that place didn’t always look like a landfill. The problem isn’t that the people living in that area don’t know how to dispose of their rubbish (though this may be how it began), the problem is there is too much rubbish for the space they are living in.
As a child I never thought that could happen to the place that I live, (I’m sure people living in the rubbish filled areas at the beginning didn’t think so either) what I realise now is that it is happening in the place I live in!
It may not be in the same city, but it’s happening in the place I live, because I live on this planet too!
For now, it’s only happening in this city and that city, but when those cities run out of space, the over flow has to go somewhere… (It began overflowing into our oceans a long time ago)
Eventually our earth will run out of space if we don’t change the way we consume items…we will run out of space, recycling isn’t enough by itself.
A lot of the items that we use don’t break down and the things that do break down, aren’t disposed of in a way so that they can.
By the end of 2017, China doesn’t want to take on the worlds rubbish, they are going to ban the import of some plastics, metals and materials. They are cleaning up their act, which means we will have to as well.
We will have to learn to deal with our own waste, or create less of it.
This doesn’t just mean in our own homes (though this is great!) But companies are going to have to rethink the way they package their products. Is there a way to eliminate the use of plastic? Swapping it for plant based plastic substitutes that can be composted rather than thrown to landfill or recycled. (Recycling is better than landfill, but it doesn’t get rid of the problem, it just turns it into something else, and also uses up a lot of resources in the process.)
The Sudokwon Landfill in Incheon, South Korea is one of the world’s largest landfills, consisting of everyday items that are discarded by the public (municipal solid waste).
The Sudokwon Landfill takes in 18,000-20,000 tons of rubbish per day, 6.9 million tons per year.
The size of this landfill being 570 acres.
1 Acre is approximately the same size as one soccer/football field or 16 tennis courts. So that’s 570 soccer fields or 9120 tennis courts. That’s an insane amount of rubbish!
There are landfills that are bigger, for example, The Apex Regional Landfill in Las Vegas, Nevada which is 2200 acres, but (thankfully) takes in less rubbish per year, though, 3.8 million tons a year is still a lot of rubbish.
I grew up in a family of five…Mum, dad, brother, sister and me.
My parents did a great job at raising us, we’re alive, we’re still here and most days, we’re all pretty happy!
Unfortunately, what my parents didn’t do, was teach us how to reduce our waste, how to recycle, how to dispose of items properly so that they would break down and how to use less in general.
This isn’t their fault, this problem didn’t start with them…They weren’t taught how to do it either.
They did their best with what they knew, and when they were in a place where they could show us, they did!
We lived on a small farm for a while, and they showed us that food scraps can go to pigs and chickens and into compost. That we can grow our own food. Even when we moved back into town, we still had someone who would pick up a bucket of food waste to feed their pigs. My parents, along with many others did what they could, with the knowledge that they had, and for that I am so grateful. But now it’s time for me to do more and I want my son to learn how to while he is young.
I feel like a big problem is how we are educated about the issue, not just in our homes, but in our schools and our work places.
Does your workplace have somewhere to dispose of compostable items? Food scraps, compostable cups etc?
Or does all of that have to go to a landfill? A landfill where the conditions required for their breakdown are not met and so the compostable items just sit…Along with the non-compostable.
I want to change what is normal, what is acceptable. We need to change.
If we are taught from a very young age how to use less and dispose of what we do use in a way that it breaks down, so that we aren’t left with it 100 years or 500 years from now.
Then the habit of buying and throwing can be broken, the habit of thoughtless consumption can be broken, and in its place are generations of people whose first instinct is to make our planet and the life on it thrive, and doing so without running out of space.
I want my son to be educated properly, not just in math, English, finances etc.
But in how to take care of our earth so that it is still here for the generations that come after him, I don’t want him to be able to say that he didn’t know how. I want him to learn from my mistakes, so that he doesn’t buy something again just because he has misplaced it. There are plenty of mistakes in his life that he will need to make for himself, to learn and grow as a person…this doesn’t need to be one of them.
For price comparisons on reusable vs disposable nappies and menstrual pads and how much your family could save, read my next blog post Reusables for mum and bubs.
Thanks for reading!
- Sarah Cooper