In a modern age of advancing technology Human negligence leads to pollution and waste

Published : 11:12 am  June 7, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (840) reads | 


mThe age of technology has introduced many materials that can be used with ease. As such plastics, rubber, metal, paper and many other materials are used for these purposes. Once people consume food or have some material that is of no use, they simply dump it, without many of us really knowing what happens to it. As a result, garbage accumulates to form massive hills that ultimately become a threat to the people and environment as a whole. This clearly shows that pollution occurs due to the negligence of the people itself.



Mismanaged waste
Generally speaking, people take good care of the food they eat by keeping it in the refrigerator and in dry places for long term use. If they could manage food products with a similar dedication after eating, then waste-related health issues could be avoided and land for housing could be preserved. Yet in reality, we do see a lot of health-related issues due to pollution and piles of garbage on bare land. Garbage doesn’t disappear but hides under the ground because of mismanaged waste. Mismanaged waste has become a problem, because it consists of highly processed items such as plastic, glass6 and metal that decompose very slowly. There are ways to separate such items from waste that decomposes fast, such as paper and foods, and the process is called recycling. Since most residential areas of Sri Lanka lack a managed network of facilities for recycling, most Sri Lankan families are either burning or burying waste under the ground. Though these two processes seem to make the waste invisible, the problems persist in the soil and in the air.


Impacts of burying and burning waste
Plastics are non-bio-degradable and remain in the environment for hundreds of years while glass remains up to a million years and metal from 50 to 200 years depending on its properties. When buried in the ground, plastics release several toxins that contaminate water and disrupt virtually every biological system in the bodies of animals and human beings. The toxins also accumulate in our bodies passing it on to future generations.

When burnt, items disappear easily and it is simple and fast. But the health effects are dramatic because plastic burning releases several toxins, some of which are dioxin, styrene, chloride, PCB and BPA. Not all plastics release these, but as it is hard for individuals to recognise different plastics, it is best not to burn any plastic. For example dioxin gathers, i.e. accumulates, in our bodies and is passed through the food web. It is estimated that every animal in this planet carries dioxin in its body.

Due to this dioxin accumulation, children can be be born without certain body parts or with abnormalities. It can also cause cancer, infertility, liver toxicity, endocrine disruption, developmental disturbances for immune, nervous and reproductive systems. Asthmatic people or those with heart conditions may also feel worse.


Eco-friendly waste management techniques
To get an idea of how to tackle this mountaineous problem, we spoke to Maya Zitting, Director of the Global Education Mindshare, an NGO for environmental protection in Sri Lanka. Noting that many European countries have tackled  growing garbage piles for several decades, she says new technology could help Sri Lanka avoid becoming a landfill island. For example, burning plastics in a modern incineration plant would reduce dioxin emissions and the volume of waste material by about 95% when compared to dumping. Also, there are several ways to reduce and manage the amount of waste; so before such incineration facilities appear in your neighborhood, here are a few simple things to keep in mind:



  •  When you crave for a snack, as Sri Lanka is abundant with amazing fruits and vegetables, why not choose them instead of cookies or chips? It is more healthier and helps combat diabetes.
  •  Carry a plastic bag when out of house: you will need it either as a shopping bag or a trash bag during your day.
  •  When in the shop: remind the shop assistant not to pack your goods in many bags.
  •  When hosting or lunching; avoid lunch sheets at all cost and opt for banana leaves, newspaper, or oil paper.
  •  Reuse packaging, bags and boxes as much as you can, whether as flower pots, shopping bags, decoration, or for storage.
  • Try to find items with as little packaging as possible – individually wrapped items such as teabags or candy are typically wrapped in a thin, unsustainable foil.
  •  Try to find other packaging materials except plastic, such as paper or cardboard.
  •  When buying clothes, ask for natural fibres such as cotton, linen, bamboo, wool and silk, instead of polyester, nylon and acrylic.
  •  Most importantly: if there is no regular garbage collection from your residence, try to negotiate with a local shop or restaurant to arrange common garbage collection, and even recycling.

(Insights provided by Maija Zitting, Global Education Mindshare –GEM)