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According to World Bank statistics, 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste was generated worldwide in 2016. This amounts to 0.74 kilograms per person. With an ever-growing population, waste generated annually is expected to increase by 70% to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050.
As a community, we can bring these scary statistics down by taking small but substantial steps to reduce waste, and a great start is with educating our children. Teaching your children about waste management is the responsibility of every parent and if taught properly, can be fun and even a challenge for the entire family.
There are many informative and innovative ways to teach children the importance of proper waste disposal. Educating them on why they should recycle will give them a better understanding instead of just instructing them to recycle.
While the end goal would be to eliminate waste, no change happens overnight. A process is needed to create workable steps towards reaching the ultimate goal of waste elimination.
A good start to teaching children how to create a more sustainable environment would be to explain to them the 4 R's.
The problem with excess plastic in our oceans, rivers and landfills is fast becoming an environmental catastrophe, to the point where whales, dolphins and the lives of other sea creatures are being threatened.
REFUSE to accept plastic bags when shopping. You can easily bring along your own bags or the increasing number of cloth shopper bags now being provided by environmentally conscious companies.
By doing this, you are effectively being an activist, caring enough to do something about this problem, taking personal responsibility to do something positive for the environment and cutting waste. The more people do this, the greater impact there will be.
Reducing the amount of waste you create requires a constant, conscientious effort. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
For example, avoid using paper towels for wiping up spills; instead opt to use a tea towel or environmentally friendly sponge.
Give your waste product a second life. There are many tutorials online of how to repurpose different items creatively.
For example, you can convert those old bottles into beautiful flower vases.
You can reuse wrapping paper, reuse glass jars for food storage or donate unwanted clothes to the needy.
On a larger scale, get down and DIY and reuse what could be considered as waste. Take for example, a pallet. There are many items you can create from a single pallet like a shoe rack, a shelf or display for hanging plants.
The last R in this process, recycling is vital in eliminating waste. A lack of knowledge is one of the biggest hurdles to recycling.
Knowing what to recycle and separating items is the consumer's responsibility. Avoid purchasing items that are non-recyclable such as styrofoam, certain paper and plastic products as well as some types of glass.