Challenge of September: take care of your garbage!

Credits: debcha /Creative Commons

Does garbage exist? In nature, no. Trash is an invention of the human being.

In nature, what is not useful for one living being is food for another. What remains in a process will start another process, in endless closed cycles. But we, humans, get gathered in cities and open the cycles, making them  linear open processes:
production of food and consumer goods -> consumer, usually in cities added -> landfills
The result? Overcrowded landfills and dumps, mixing and storing materials that could be super rich elsewhere, such as organic matter for composting and enriching the soil for food production. (Instead, we throw out the manure, mixed with plastic, paper, etc.. And at the other end of the process, we pay industries to produce fertilizers.)
At home, nobody likes to deal with the trash at all. My father says that when he was a boy, his role in household chores was to take out the garbage. And, as was embarrassed to have to do that, he watched before heading out to see if any classmate was on the street. We all have a negative images of trash. So we try to handle our waste as little as possible, packint it in plastic and throwing it away as soon as possible!

But where does the garbage go?

If you want a frank answer (the reality of many developing countries), watch this.
Ok, if you’re lucky your material will go to a better place. But anyway we all should be more involved in the process and feel ourselves responsible for the waste we generate.

So, let’s do it?

The challenge of the month is: take care of your garbage!

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Rethink: find that garbage is not “junk”
  2. Reduce: Decrease your waste generation, buying more consciously. Choose products with less packaging or packaging biodegradable or recyclable. Do not waste.
  3. Reuse: Before you buy boxes, glass and plastic containers to organize and beautify the home, think that the bottles, and glasses that you would throw away can serve.
  4. Recycle:

Rich garbage!

Make your own compost at home: do you know that you can make compost even in apartment? Make it according to your available space: you can use a tupperware, a large bin, or a “worms house” (minhocasa). Maybe you can not recycle all your organic waste, but it willbe an instructive and rewarding experience anyhow! Click the tag “compost” to see  some great tips right here in our backyard, or “google it”!
Separate “clean garbage”: if you don’t yet, it’s time! Get into the habit of separating your trash! There is no selective collection in your street? Bring it to a collection point. Don’t know where to bring it? Come on, there are no excuses. I used to think the same, untill I did a google-search and immediately found plenty of places near home where I could take my recycables to, from supermarkets to public places such as universities and plazas.
Note 1: If there is no selective collection in your street, you can and should complain to the government of your city. Phone the city hall, make a petition, send emails to council members.
Note 2: Attention to the type of collection you’ll use: for some kinds of collection, you don’t need not separate glass, paper, metal and plastic. Just rinse the recyclable material and save everything in a bag of trash diferent from the organic one. However, if you will lead to a collection station,probably you’ll need to separate the material. It is easier if you purchase different buckets to sort right at home. You can use the default colors for glasspaper, metal and plastic.
Good luck, and share your accomplishments with us! 😉
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3 thoughts on “Challenge of September: take care of your garbage!

  1. It’s interesting reading this – I have been living in Japan for two years and the trash separation is mandated and you can get fines from the garbage collectors for not properly separating your trash. As result – almost everyone does it. I know Americans don’t like more laws and infringement, but why not make something simple common practice? We have traffic laws for a reason, why not laws that would make the common world that we all share cleaner? It works here!

    • I agree with you, Joy. Fees and taxes are a way of educating massively and quickly. I’ve seen in my current city people stop using plastic bags at the markets because now there is a law that prohibits shops to distribute non compostable plastic bags, and obligates them to charge even for those compostable ones. But there are also non-punishing measures that could be taken. I was born in a city where people are in general low-income and low-instructed, but the government did a great campaign on trash separation, with trucks collecting the recyclables in every street, playing a nice music to motivate people to join it. It had great results. Many Brazilian cities have trucks collecting, but not in every street, and not with an educating program at the same time. Here in Brazil there are different laws about garbage for each city.

  2. Pingback: Trash challenge still open! « from our backyard to the world

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