The Grim Numbers Behind Waste and What To Do About It
When it comes to waste management, statistics can be a sad thing. See the truth behind the numbers and possible solutions to make them look better.
Why do we even discuss garbage? Truth is: if each person takes a little time to reconsider his actions, it will make a huge difference for our planet. Most people don’t even stop for a minute to think about how much waste they produce on a daily basis.
Let’s Talk Numbers…
Sydney’s population of around 4.6 million produced an unbelievable amount of rubbish. In 2004 the citizens of Sydney produced food and common household waste worth over $2.5 billion. Shocking isn't it? Obviously, we didn’t learn what's really important - “Don’t waste food, there are people dying from starvation somewhere”.
Plastic bags are among the biggest problems not only in Sydney but in the world as well. In general, Australians use around 3.92 billion plastic bags every year. The petrol found in them would be enough to power a car for more than 450 million kilometres.
The type of waste we didn’t mention until now is E-waste. It includes all kinds of old electronic equipment. As computers are one of the most frequently upgraded pieces of electronics, their contribution to the pollution statistics is among the largest. You will feel relieved if we told you that 500 000 computers were recycled in 2006. And what if we tell you, that these have to be compared to the 1.6 million simply thrown away, 1.8 million in storage, and 5.3 million simply sitting unused on shelves. The numbers don’t include computer accessories. Not so “green”, right? All of this waste can be collected, easily.
Don’t forget: the City of Sydney organises a free Christmas tree recycling pickup, giving the trees a second life by chipping them into mulch. Last year they collected 572 trees. Come on, people, we can do much better.
Okay, so the numbers don’t look quite good, we all got that. The key lesson here is to try and make a difference by changing our day-to-day lifestyle. Nevertheless, there are some good news: we can make these numbers look less scary.
How Can We Change The Statistics
The city of Sydney has launched a new animation and an online game called “Where Does Waste Go?”. Their aim is to educate residents on how to properly dispose of their junk and divert valuable resources from the landfills. You can watch the video here. This initiative has to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to toxic chemicals. The authorities in Sydney have also set up chemical drop-off locations. Many of the collected chemicals are being recycled on the same day.
So, let’s hope that at some point all of us will be aware of the importance of proper junk removal and waste management. We have to make an attempt every day in order to make a real change in the long run.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Bennett Morrison is an independent author based in Sydney, who currently focuses his work on topics related to the environment and the human impact on it.