As waste is becoming more of a problem for our environment, it’s essential that we all learn how to dispose of it sustainably. In a culture of single-use solutions and wasteful trends, we worry surprisingly little about where the things we buy and use end up.
Before waste becomes waste…
Before we jump into the different ways to dispose of
your waste, let’s make a quick aside and talk about what we can do before that. Choosing the right materials is a crucial step which will make disposing of waste much easier – and much more sustainable.
It’ always best to prioritize compostable and recyclable packaging over non-recyclable options (which is what we’re doing at Rubydoobys). Also, you may want to consider your access to recycling or composting in the purchasing decision.
Yes, recycling is a good thing to do for the environment – but not all materials can be recycled the same. Some, including plastic or paper, can’t actually be recycled in the true sense of the word – they can only be downcycled, which means they lose quality through the process and can only be recycled a limited number of times. When speaking of plastic, that’s usually only once.
Technologies are advancing, allowing for materials like paper to be recycled more and more
times, but the limit still exists. So, which materials can be recycled indefinitely? Of the common household materials, that would be glass and metal.
The first step to take towards better recycling practices is informing yourself about the recycling system in your area and the requirements associated with it. Which items are collected when? Which materials can’t be recycled in your area? All this can vary tremendously region by region.
Once you get to sorting your recyclables, it’s important to be thorough. You may think workers at the recycling facility will do this for you, but that is simply not the case most of the time. One-quarter of the trash we put into recycling bins today can’t be recycled – and this dead weight is costing recycling facilities and local governments money which could otherwise be invested into making the Earth greener.
Composting is an essential part of responsible waste disposal. Why? That’s because when compostable waste is sent to landfill, it lacks the conditions it needs to break down properly and instead, produces methane – a fast-acting greenhouse gas.
The days when you had to own a garden to compost are long past – there are flat friendly solutions such as worm bins now. You could also make use of any community gardens in your area to compost your waste. Your city may also be collecting food waste for composting in an industrial facility.
Aside from composting food scraps, you can also dispose of other types of waste this way, including hair, dust, cork or packaging labelled as compostable. However, be sure to check if the latter can really be composted at home, or if it requires the conditions of an industrial composting facility.
Reuse what you can
Lastly, a simple way to limit your waste production is to find new uses for the trash. Upcycle them, resell them or find new uses for them. This could be as creative as making old jeans into a denim skirt or as simple as using pasta sauce jars to plant herbs in!
Most importantly, do what you can! Whether thats a little or a lot, every single bit is a positive change is beneficial in keeping are land and seas clean!