What is Waste
Waste (object) ”use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose” (of a material, substance, or by-product) “eliminated or discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process”.
In general terms, most people can determine what physical waste is, although not always in the sense when travelling, as it goes beyond stopping single use plastics that end up in landfill or in our waterways, and is more than simply saying no to the hotel housekeeping to change sheets on a daily basis.
Waste is all around us, even more so when we travel
As we’re more carefree and relaxed, not always thinking of our daily habits nor considering the destination we’re in at the time.
Waste comes in many different forms, each having their own devastating impact on our planet. Whether it be our non-biodegradable trash of leftover consumed items that pile up on landfill that never decomposes, or that we use/purchase excessive amounts of “things” that are not a necessity like water or food produce. It could be the water we waste when leaving a tap running, the air pollution we generate with our transportation choices, even the scrap food left over on meals we don’t end up eating. The list of waste is endless.
Most of the general public do not think of the before and after processes of how the majority of items/products are made, nor the waste process after an item/product is used. This separation could be the cause of why waste is a major concern for earth, more so than ever before. If everyone had to produce, grow, make, gather all the items they need to live off, then on top of that dispose of the waste afterwards, people would think twice.
How much waste do you dispose of?
If everyone had to grow their own food produce, or at least walk to the farms to pick their own fruit and vegetables, and even cut up their own meat products, they would make sure every grain of rice or every lettuce leaf was eaten, rather than throwing away simply because it was no longer required.
The same goes for clothes, instead of clicking online for a new jacket, they had to go to a tailor to measure up and manufacture from scratch, they would own that item of clothing longer, rather than throw it away on landfill.
Do you buy one off fashion items, or clothes that last for years?
Think about if you had to carry your own waste (excluding bodily waste!), or find somewhere in your home to leave it in a corner for 3 months, would you be happy to do so? Some countries have an area in their house block or community for their waste, in which they burn it on a regular basis. If you had to manage your own waste, you may start to consider the amount of waste you produce, then start to reduce it.
It starts with these types of mindsets. Just because something is easily obtainable or replaceable, doesn’t mean you need to. A good start is to think of the before and after processes of all physical objects and items.
How can I Help?
Think of waste as a cancer, in that we cannot always kill it, instead it continues to grow and spread around earth.
Start to recognise physical waste around you
After then you then picture the waste as a cancer, you’ll do anything to stop it from getting it from the onset.
The more you travel, the more you’ll likely be exposed to waste in our world, seeing plastics wash up on clean beaches, seeing our marine wildlife lives at risk due to plastics in our oceans.
When it comes to food waste, if you visit small remote communities, you will gain more appreciation for the locally grown produce and in turn hopefully you are less resistant to throwing away unused produce, instead giving any left over fresh produce to other people as a means of regifting.
Do your have excess food left over go to waste?
Even when we select our clothes when packing for a trip, only pack items that are truly essential are best. Otherwise in turn excess packing leads to increased baggage weight (possible costs), whilst also increasing your carbon emissions to transport your belongings as you travel. Some destinations welcome unused clothing or toiletry items, so nearing the end of your trip you can gift these items to locals. However there is a difference of gifting to communities that want the times, as opposed to simply leaving the items behind, that may go to the local landfill tip.
Reach out to locals at a destination prior to packing, to see if they welcome left over clothing
We can no longer survive in the current “make, use, dispose” economy we live in. Unfortunately this is the life which most developed countries live in these days. We now all individually need to change our habits when it comes to when we obtain items, how much we obtain, whether it be natural resources, plastics, packaging, food produce, clothes, receipts etc. Changing a habit is difficult, although it is achievable and the more you practice the easier it becomes.
There are various ways to eliminate waste, a suggested way to review your waste could be the 5R’s: