This week we are celebrating the European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR,2018), an initiative that seeks to promote and raise awareness about sustainable resources and waste management by organizing multiple actions during these 7 days (NLWA, 2018).
Every year, the most outstanding ideas are rewarded at a closure event in Brussels, and since its first year, more than 14,000 actions have been implemented (EWWR, 2018).
But, why is it so important to start taking actions about waste management and sustainable resources? And how can I start doing it?
Only in the UK, more than 22.8 million tons of waste are thrown into the bin from British households (the Guardian, 2018), equivalent to 412kg per person every year. Furthermore, these numbers has doubled in weight since 1970 and stayed at a high level for the past 15 years (Eurostat, 2018). Moreover, we are running out of landfill space, increasing the plastic pollution in our oceans and our environment is deteriorating at a faster pace.
As a solution, some governments and environmental organisations have been developing proposals to address this problem, beginning by creating campaigns for understanding the process of waste generation from its origin to its final disposal: collection, transportation, disposal and recycling and monitoring of waste (BBC, 2018).
With this in mind, there are different actions that can be taken in each stage of the waste management process in order to change and reduce the waste (Wiseuptowaste, 2018). The most common one and maybe the easier to start collaborating with our environment, is the 3R's: Reduce waste, Reuse products and Recycle materials.
3R's Hierarchy (EWWR, 2018)
To have a better understanding, we will follow the hierarchy proposed by European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR, 2018) regarding the 3R’s, were waste prevention must be the first step to start a more sustainable life.
Reduce means using fewer resources that includes strict avoidance and reduction at source. Its actions aim to change the consumer behavior by encouraging the use of sustainable products in their purchase decisions, and therefore, in their life (Cbenvironmental, 2018). In this stage, one of the changes we can start adopting is: when shopping for groceries by opting for eco-labelled products , avoid using plastic bags for your vegetables or packed products, bring your own cup for coffee takeaways and home composting.
Secondly, we have Reuse, which refers to the actions of extending the lifespan of products that includes preparing for reuse and reuse as the main activities in this part of the process (EWWR, 2018). Through its objective of giving a second life to objects, they encourage the donation of products that are no longer in need, contributing to social goals of fighting against poverty and social inclusion by providing affordable products to low-income households. At the same time, it also brings economic benefits on monetary savings.
Among the actions that can be taken to change your lifestyle are by buying reusable or refillable products and renting items rather than buying. As a matter of fact, WRAP estimated that the reuse of T-shirts and sofas in the UK can save 450,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent and 52,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent per year (WRAP, 2018).
Reusing Textiles (WRAP, 2018).
The last, Recycle, which is the process where products, materials or substances are reprocessed after being used, either to return to their original use or for another purposed. Furthermore, education to the citizens is crucial in order to understand how to improve their waste-sorting behavior and how to close the loop of material resources.
The importance of the 3R's (YouTube, 2018).
With these small actions taken everyday, we will be changing the way we generate waste while at the same time helping save the planet so deteriorated in which we are living. Creating sustainable businesses and products improves our quality of life, enhances the environment usage and prevents hazard for future generations. We want others to be conscious of this.
So, why not starting by reducing, reusing and recycling umbrellas?
-Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. (2018). [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-BBC News. (2018). Recycling rates fall for 14m households. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43197454 [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-Cbenvironmental.co.uk. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.cbenvironmental.co.uk/docs/Recycling[Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-Conserve Energy Future. (2018). What is Waste Management and Methods of Waste Disposal? - Conserve Energy Future. [online] Available at: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/waste-management-and-waste-disposal-methods.php [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-Parveen, N. (2018). UK's plastic waste may be dumped overseas instead of recycled. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/23/uks-plastic-waste-may-be-dumped-overseas-instead-of-recycled [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-Wiseuptowaste.org.uk. (2018). European Week for Waste Reduction. [online] Available at: http://www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/wasteless/[Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
- Wrap (2018). Sustainable Textiles | WRAP UK. [online] Available at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/sustainable-textiles [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
-YouTube. (2018). Chapter 4 : The Importance of the 3Rs. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJr2z8g1dOI [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].