Get Responsible With Waste!


We’re responsible with every area of our lives, so why not with our waste too?

So you walked out of the supermarket feeling content. When the cashier asked whether you want plastic bags for your groceries, you quickly replied, “No, thank you!”, because you bring your own reusable shopping bag(s).

Score for the environment!

Yes, but… how about the stuff inside your reusable shopping bag? Is it recyclable? And if it is (or it’s not), what do you do with it?

Let’s face it, every day our bins will be filled with something, the “byproducts” of our daily activities. Look close enough and you’ll be surprised that most of them are actually recyclable. To be responsible with our waste requires not only the awareness of putting it into the waste bin but also knowing the type of waste you produce and to separate it accordingly.

And if we are aiming for a zero-waste-to-landfill lifestyle, commitment will be a much-needed currency, and the way that we can achieve it is through preventive measures (like reducing and reusing) and adopting responsible waste management.

Shaping a Waste-Free Habitat

This year’s World Habitat Day that was celebrated on October 1 shines a spotlight on the subject of “Municipal Solid Waste Management”, highlighting the fact that each year 2 BILLION tons of waste is generated, and only between 25% to 55% of the waste is collected by municipal authorities.

Unmanaged waste (or its improper treatment, such as burning) will have widespread repercussions to every aspects of our lives, from airborne diseases to climate change, and practicing a responsible waste management can turn that tide and elevate our quality of life. This measure is in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) point 12, “Sustainable Production & Consumption”, that advocates an environmentally sound management of waste through the act of prevention, reduction, recycling, reuse, and reduction of food waste.

“We should all strive towards a commitment to change our habits, and we should embrace it completely,” says Paola Cannucciari, Program Manager for ecoBali. “We should all rethink the way we used to behave and incorporate a new, more responsible habits such as bringing with us at all times our own water tumbler, reusable shopping bag, and reusable straws.”

A responsible response to our waste starts from separating our waste into two groups: the non-biodegradables and the biodegradables, in which the goal is to recover the recyclables, prevent it from being contaminated with “wet” waste like food waste, and ensure the residues are properly handled and disposed to official landfills

“Being responsible with our waste can significantly reduce our waste footprint up to 80 percent, which otherwise would go into the landfill,” resumes Paola. “Also, being responsible with our waste means that you know where your waste is going to, what happens to the waste, and who is actually managing it.”

So, do you think you can answer those three questions?

What Really Happens to Your Waste

Here is the most common scenario that happens to your waste:

Where does it go to? For the most part, it’ll go to the mountainous “trash bin” that we call the landfill, and it’ll be the final resting place for our non-biodegradables and biodegradables. Other possibilities are to the backyard or the river and ocean, which is acceptable if all your waste is food scraps and biodegradables.

What happens to the waste? If it’s to nature, the biodegradables will degrade naturally, and the non-biodegradables – well, perhaps you’ve seen the images already: waste lining beautiful beaches and swimming in the oceans where the plastic will break down into microplastics, the “trending” snacks for marine species. When it goes into the landfill your rich assortment of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste will pile up and pollute the surrounding land and water. Collectively it will also produce methane, one of the greenhouse gasses that plays a pivotal part in climate change.

And Who is managing it? The municipal authorities is managing it, but they will mostly dispose the waste to landfills where the pemulung (independent waste collector) will rummage through decomposing biodegradable waste to salvage whatever recyclables they can find. (However, recently there are remedial steps taken by the regional government, and that’s by building village-based waste separation centers called TPS 3R [Reduce Reuse Recycle Temporary Landfill] in which waste is separated and recycled, and the residues is disposed to official landfills.)  

Let’s Take Control

In the alternative scenario, YOU take control of the narrative. You’ll control where your waste is going, what happens to it, and who manages it. If you don’t like the idea of your waste being buried in a landfill, then bring it to people or companies who can responsibly manage and recycle your recyclables.  

As mentioned before, being knowledgeable about the waste you produce is also a bonus: some materials are easier to recycle than others, and being responsible with our waste means that we know what they are. Purchasing paper-based products/packaging (like your beverage cartons as it’s 75% paper) can be categorized as being the better alternative due to its high recyclable nature, or if you’re given the choice of a shampoo inside a hard plastic bottle or in a sachet, choose the former because sachets are not recyclable and will become a mere residue in a landfill.

Talking about plastic, they’ve been receiving a lot of bad rap lately, and justifiably so.  Its “abundance” in nature along with other non-biodegradable like the multilayered snack packaging or diapers has been a major problem not only in Bali but also across the globe.

But once again, us as consumers can play a role in alleviating the issue: Yeah drinking straight from the coconut might be a difficult task so a straw would be useful, but have you ever wondered what happens to the straws afterward? It’s single-use, so off to the bin it goes. So isn’t it better to simply refuse it?

So bottom line, yes, WE can totally be part of the solution, and all it takes is being more aware and responsible with the waste we produce, and give 100% of our commitment to it. Ready to make the transition?

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