The alternative aims to reduce climate change with simple practices and friendly with the environment
Consumerism has led us to acquire massively harmful products for the planet. This consume is an unsustainable lifestyle that produce several consequences. Over 45% of collected waste does not receive a disposal or proper treatment, that is, almost half will be drop in open dumps, some will be burned, others will be thrown into the water or used as animal feed, among others inappropriate for the environment and health solutions.
However, to almost every problem there is a solution. In this case, there are different alternatives that not damage the environment. One of them is Zero Waste. It is a trend environmentalist movement that goes beyond simply recycling and can combat climate change individually. The Zero Waste movement is based on minimizing the production of waste, recycling, reuse and enhance the maximum amount of materials. It also promotes the manufacture and use of products that are designed to be reused in the long-term.
The reality is that rarely people consider the short shelf life of products they consume. Their usage is so short, that most of them are devices of a single use and end up contaminating land and seas for a long period of time. By 2015, it is already estimated to be 1.1 tons of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. This means that in about 35 years there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
Internationally, the Zero Waste movement has two major influencers: Bea Johnson -with her website Zero Waste Home- and Lauren Singer -with her blog is for Trash Is for Tossers-. Both face consumerism within the culture of disposability to implement sustainable alternatives in their routines.
There is no doubt that Latin American countries are developing and growing rapidly. Therefore, waste management became an increasingly difficult task. However, terms such as green cities, recycling, and environment have become recurrent. The usage and inclusion of these terms is an indicator that governments, along with the private sector and citizens, are more aware of the problems that are produced by waste generation.
In Latin America, a single person generates on average 230 kilograms of waste per year. The cipher is equivalent to 16 million truckloads of garbage, even though up to 90% of the waste can be recovered through recycling and composting. Already several countries in the region have become aware and have begun to implement measures in most cases regarding the regulation of plastic bags.
Worldwide, plastic bags represent 8 million tons of plastic ending in the ocean every year and their useful life is only 15 to 30 minutes while its biodegradation process takes 500 years. For example, in Chile, according the Ministry of Environment, 205 million bags are used per month. As a result, cities like Punta Arenas and Chile Chico joined the ban on such containers to contribute to live in an environment healthier. In 2012, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the state government and the Paulista Association of Supermarkets (APAS) decided to replace all disposable bags with reusable bags. The campaign was done under the slogan "Let's take the planet from choking".
However, the reality is that the work of NGOs, private organizations, and governments will have no results if inhabitants around the world do not support and contribute to minimize the amount of waste generated. Every citizen should be committed to collaborate to the sustainability and environmental conservation.
As Zero Waste movement proposes, patterns can be broken b realizing negative practices. In that sense, you can become more aware of patterns of consumption and act in a more responsible way. Therefore, it is possible to minimize potential losses of an unsustainable style.
It is a process of adaptation and each person can apply it on their own pace. There are small changes you can start doing today and join the alternative that seeks reduce waste generation with a Zero Waste style:
• Change the disposable cups for glass and metal bottles. Do not forget to buy returnable liquids containers.
• Avoid plastic bags and start recyclable ones. This small step help reduce the number of 160 thousand plastic bags used worldwide every second.
• Use cleaning products with homemade items like baking soda, white vinegar and some natural lavender. Try to not use industrial ones.
• Avoid plastic straws to drink liquids.
• Change napkins and paper towels by gender.
• Use washable metal cutlery instead of plastic.
LatinAmerican Post | Diana Ramos
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza