How to generate less trash

May 12th, 2011 BY sjrapala | 3 Comments

An average person produces several hundred pounds of trash every year. Part of the garbage is segregated and re-used as raw material (recycling). This is, obviously, much better than leaving behind a huge pile of unusable trash, but it is still not the ideal solution. Why produce something in the first place, if it only ends up in landfill to be sorted? For example, wouldn’t it be possible to do away with all the excessive packaging of consumer goods or with the manufacturing of single-use items? It makes no sense at all to produce things that are bought only to be thrown away soon after.

Here are some things to think about:

  1. Plastic bags: humanity as a total uses about a trillion every year. Why do we carry so many bags out of the store every day? We use them once, maybe twice, and they then land in the trash. It must be remembered that it takes up to several hundred years for this plastic to decompose. A simple way of preventing this is taking reusable bags with you when you go shopping. It’s simple and convenient.
  2. Disposable products: The curse of the twentieth century. Cheap, easy to use and immediately thrown out. I am thinking of all the cheap pens and disposable, lighters, etc., etc. Is it not better to buy something which is better and reusable, even though it’s a bit more expensive? You get better value for your dollar and end up with one piece of trash instead of five.
  3. Larger packages: When buying a 1.5L bottled water we will use up less plastic than when buying three 500ml bottles. What’s more, this is cheaper. This same rule applies to other products, mainly food and household goods. Larger packaging equals less waste and less money spent.
  4. You should also pay attention to how a product is packaged before you buy it. Packaging should use the least possible amount of material. It would be best if it was made from a renewable material, such as, for example, paper.
  5. High quality products are generally long-lasting products. If I buy a cheap iron, I’ll need to buy it again next year. And so, after five years I’ll have one working iron at home and four broken ones in the landfill. If I buy a more expensive product of higher quality, it will cost me the same  as the five low-cost ones, but I will have produced less waste. This principle applies to many other goods: shoes, irons, backpacks, bicycles, etc.
  6. Flyers: Every one of us has probably taken a flyer from a street vendor and then discreetly thrown it into the trash bin. I know that people handing out flyers earn money this way. But they get paid by the hour and not by the amount of leaflets distributed. So it’s best not to take the flyers at all unless you are interested. Less leaflets distributed means less leaflets printed and this means less unnecessary paper produced.
  1. Dimakatso Makoro

    Lets all support the COP17.

  2. 2

    [...] always a great idea to buy things made out of recycled products because, let’s face it: we all generate a whole lot of crap. However, it is equally important to think about how much extra energy had to be used to make the [...]

  3. 3

    [...] The EPA reports that recycling increased three percent between 2006 and 2007. In addition, the amount of trash generated per person dropped during this same [...]

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