Did you know that we are generating 48.9 million tons worth of e-waste alone annually? E-waste is inclusive of mobile phones, notepads and tablets, laptops, TVs and screens, and cables and plugs. This is 44361333786 kg of waste that is generated globally, according to the United Nations.
You didn’t even finish counting that number, did you?
It is also worthy to note that 30% of the food produced globally is lost to waste.
A Global Waste Management Conference was held in Bangkok in 2017 with a focus on building sustainability through the development and implementation of sound waste management strategies. Estimates indicated that world cities were generating about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste annually.
The results? Decomposing waste contributes directly to pollution. Not only are we contaminating the water that we need to drink, eventually, but we are also polluting the very air we breathe, and the soil we use to grow our food.
It is a vicious cycle. So here are some tips on how to recycle like the bosses that we are:
Think before you buy
A lot of companies are going green, which means that they have become more aware of the packaging they use. They have done this so that we don’t have to always go home with packaging that we can’t re-use or recycle. So be very wary of what kind of packaging you purchase with your products.
Take a bag when shopping
Our monthly groceries take up about 5-6 plastic bags. Imagine if 1000 people purchased groceries in a single store in a day. That is 6000 plastic bags that cannot be recycled. So, next time you do your groceries, re-use your old plastic bags or take a grocery bag that some stores sell.
Purchase items that you can re-use. These can be water bottles that you can use again in the future. If you purchase a jar of mayonnaise, you can re-use it for food storage purposes.
If it is broken, fix it
We have become very accustomed to chucking out things that are broken. Electronics, for instance. If your microwave is broken, instead of chucking it out, fix it. There might be a small issue with it that can be remedied. If you have outgrown it and have been wishing that it dies, fix it for someone else. Ask your nanny or your helper if she would like, or knows someone that would like a 2nd hand TV. Remember, it might be trash to you but could make a world’s difference to someone else’s life.
Recycling is not only for the house
The reality is that we are consuming endless waste in our homes, our workplaces, and schools. So, the principles we adopt at home can also be adopted in other spaces. We could bring our own lunch and cups to work to consume less takeaway packaging which can’t be recycled. We could also teach our children to recycle more at schools.
Educate yourself on recycling options
It is important to know what you can or cannot recycle. Recycling items that can’t be recycled overloads the system and takes up precious time and money of sorting out items that can’t be re-used. Items such as polystyrene, bubble wrap, takeaway coffee cups, plastic toys, plastic bags. The list is endless. There are therefore a lot of misconceptions about what can and cannot be recycled. Be educated first on these options.
Purchase recycled products
I know a guy that creates furniture out of old tyres. I have also seen a couple of guys that create cool beer glasses out of beer bottles. If we purchase more of these, we are creating a healthy cycle of recycling. More and more people are becoming very creative in using old items. Let us support them.
Find artists that use trash
Trash art has grown in the last couple of years. Artists are creating some amazing pieces using recycled materials and our trash. Find out who does this in your community, or even outside of your immediate community. Become a supplier of specific items for them, rather than chucking these items out. Thomas Bika and Mveliso Ntaba are trash artists based in Johannesburg.
Have separate bins in your home or office
Lastly, this is a practical tip that can work wonders. If you place different bins in the house in different places, then its easier and more convenient to recycle. You also won’t bag un-recyclable items with ones meant to be recycled.
Remember the 4 R’s
We all have a part to play in making our environment more habitable, not only for ourselves now, but for people that are still coming into this world. Future generations also deserve to exist in a healthy environment that can help them flourish, not make them ill.
Karabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen. She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo.