Our planet contains a lot of waste. Since Industrial Revolutionwe humans have produced 30 trillion tons of stuff – from skyscrapers and bridges to clothes and plastic bags. Much of it is still with us as waste.
Overall people add 350 million tons to this total each day. Worse still, much of the world’s waste is badly managed – dumped on land, in rivers and in open landfills in towns and villages. It exposes people to serious health risks. He harms plants and soiland a lot of trash finds its way in the oceans. Thinking about what a mess we are making can be quite overwhelming.
Waste management in the United States is big business.
Garbage in space?
Sending trash into space isn’t as crazy as it sounds. After all, there’s plenty of room out there, with no one – as far as we know today – to claim it.
Some researchers have suggested send trash into space. They mainly think of used radioactive fuel rods from nuclear power plants. It is true that nuclear waste will remain extremely dangerous for tens of thousands of years, and humans have made a lousy job so far to dispose of it safely on Earth.
These proposals, however, have never advanced, for many reasons. One is the risk: what would happen if a rocket carrying tons of highly radioactive waste exploded on takeoff? Another is the cost, which would be much higher than the already high price of storing it safely on Earth.
There are also a lot of “space debrisalready orbiting the planet, including broken satellites and meteor debris. NASA estimates that there are more than half a million pieces the size of a marble or more in Earth’s orbit. They move at high speed, so they can really damage spacecraft in a collision. It wouldn’t be smart to add to this problem.
Here’s a much better strategy: reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, incinerators, open dumps on land and in the oceans. Some of this work falls to governments, which set rules on issues such as whether to allow single-use plastic bags. But there are plenty of things people can do to reduce waste in their daily lives.
Many American communities are beginning to compost organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste. This reduces the volume of waste going to landfill and produces valuable fertilizer.
Lots of R
You may know the “3 Rs of waste» : reduce, reuse, recycle. Each step means less waste at the end of the day.
If you want to reduce waste in your life, choose reusable cups, cutlery, or grocery bags instead of single-use plastic items. Many towns and cities have made it the rule.
Some communities also collect organic waste, such as food scraps and garden scraps, and turn them into compost – a soil-like material that gardeners and landscapers use as fertilizer. And many gardeners make their own compost at home.
You can reuse buying second-hand goods and clothes and donating your unwanted but still usable items. Freecycle Networks facilitate the distribution of usable items you don’t need and get different goods in return.
Recycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum keeps them out of landfills. This too helps slow climate change, since it takes less energy to make new products from recycled materials. In 2018, almost a third of municipal solid waste in the United States has been recycled or composted.
Some items, like plastic bags and straws, can be difficult to recycle. But aluminum cans, paper, cardboard and certain types of plastic are successfully recycled at much higher rates. Awareness what can be recycled where you liveAnd how to dois important – the rules vary a lot from place to place.
There is more than 3 R to act. You can repair, retrieve And reinvent how you buy and use things.
There are more and more discussions about the right to repair – giving consumers access to information and parts so they can repair their own goods, from electronics to cars. Companies prefer that you buy new replacements, but many people ask for rules that make it easier to fix your own stuff.
There are many options to reduce waste before space is the only place to put it. Once you try some, you’ll find it’s easier than you think.
Kate O’Neill is a professor of global environmental policy at the University of California, Berkeley. This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons License. Read it original article.