And what will we leave to our descendants? Plastic water bottles, chocolate wrappers, shampoo bottles? All this can indeed be preserved for centuries. What about modern waste, what is the solution to the problem of garbage?
Environmental problem of garbage
It is obvious that garbage will not disappear on its own. Even considering that organic waste still decomposes, modern man is ahead of this process, producing a little more than a kilogram of garbage per day. Approximately two cubic meters are collected per year. By the way, Russia is far from being the world leader in the “production” of garbage. According to the World Bank, Icelanders produce the most waste: almost 4.5 kilograms per day. Least of all – the citizens of Lesotho: only 100 grams per day. The more economically developed a country is, the more its citizens produce waste.
Solving the garbage problem
Incineration, or thermal processing of garbage, is far from a new way to solve the garbage problem. About 2,000 years ago, poisonous smoke was described in Jerusalem from “gehenna of fire,” a city dump in the Hinnom Valley where waste was burned. The first to burn garbage in specialized furnaces began in England, so it was possible to get rid of 70-90% of the waste, the method was in demand and developed rapidly. By introducing waste incinerators, Europe and England very soon faced a deterioration in the composition of the air and difficulties in the disposal of poisonous ash. Thus, waste disposal came to the fore.
Modern waste incineration plants have both pros and cons. Of the benefits – the generation of additional electricity, the creation of jobs, and subject to all standards and technologies, pre-sorting waste, the company operates relatively safe for the environment. Waste ash can be used in the production of building materials – for example, pavements for highways.
There are also disadvantages: in case of non-compliance with the rules and without preliminary waste sorting, the incinerator can release carcinogens into the atmosphere – furans and dioxins, which accumulate in the body. The operation of an incineration plant is expedient only at its maximum load: this means that the company is interested in large volumes and is not interested in waste sorting. Another disadvantage is the high cost of such disposal, which falls on the shoulders of taxpayers.
Long term storage
Waste disposal was practiced until the nineties, up to 90% of all world waste was deposited in landfills. The consequences were not slow to affect the pollution of the soil, the atmosphere (methane and the so-called landfill gas are actively produced) and groundwater. Constant fires, emissions, unsanitary conditions made it impossible for people to live near landfills. Today there is a struggle with the development of landfills, protests are unfolding against the construction of new ones. In Russia, there are about 15,000 legal landfills, but how many of them are in unidentified places is not tracked. In total, landfills in our country occupy an area of 4 million hectares, which is comparable to the area, for example, in the Netherlands or Switzerland. By 2050, landfills may occupy 1% of the area of Russia.
The most modern way to solve the garbage problem is sorting and processing garbage. You can recycle metal, paper, cardboard, many types of plastic, glass. Sorting, the first stage, is actively practiced in many countries. Garbage is stored in different bags while still in the house, and mixing waste in a landfill is practically impossible. The purpose of sorting is to separate waste that will go to different recycling plants.
Smart consumption is a very effective way to reduce the garbage problem. It means deliberately reducing waste and thinking carefully about what you buy—only buy things when you really need them, and wear clothes and shoes until they reach the end of their useful life. This also includes the secondary market of things, their resale on websites, commission stores, second-hand. Many brands already produce clothes, shoes, sporting goods from recycled materials.
Accumulators, batteries and electronics must not be thrown away, instead they must be taken to special collection points. Rejection of disposable packaging and utensils is an important step towards solving the problem of garbage pollution. It is also recommended to buy quality products that will last as long as possible. Even with a high cost, the costs will justify themselves.
There is an acute problem of overproduction of clothes, shoes, toys, and other consumer goods. The Russian government has already voiced the idea of issuing licenses for the production of clothing in order to reduce the mass production of low-quality and cheap collections of synthetic fabrics, which are sent to landfill after just one season.
Overconsumption is dangerous not only for the environment, but also for the psyche. Marketers are constantly coming up with new ways to push us to buy, but they no longer bring us pleasure. If you buy things less often, you will again realize the joy of buying.
Conscious shopping, garbage sorting, environmental education of children – this is exactly what every person can do to solve the problem of garbage.