It’s no secret that we generate lot of trash. The average person generates over 4.3 pounds of waste per day, which is 1.6 pounds more than most of us produced in 1960.
Each year, trash is generated in the form of packaging, bottles, boxes, cans, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, and more. Significant energy and resources are consumed in the production, transporting and disposal of this waste stream.
As much as 50 percent of the solid waste generated in Jamaica is attributed to the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). Approximately 80 percent of the total waste generated in the country is collected by five Parks and Markets Companies, private companies wholly-owned by the Government. The quality of their service has been deteriorating because of budgetary constraints. Approximately 20 percent of the generated waste is handled by private collectors.
Official waste disposal sites in Jamaica all have a high potential for contributing to pollution of soil, water and air. They lack conventional solid waste disposal site equipment, resulting in inadequate and improper burial of solid waste. Unauthorized dumpsites proliferate and these can usually be found in remote areas where detection is difficult.
We can significantly reduce the amount of solid waste by following some basic principles of reducing the amount of waste that is created, reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded, by recycling materials and by using recycled materials. The commonly-used “3-R” phrase to describe this principle is: “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”.
- Take reusable bags to the grocery store instead of single-use plastic bags.
- Select items with limited or no packaging.
- Use a refillable container for water in place of bottled water.
- Reduce “junk mail”. Direct mail creates 10 billion pounds of solid waste each year, and approximately 44 percent of junk mail goes to landfills unopened.
- Think twice before printing material from the internet. When possible, print on both sides of the paper.
- Set a goal for reducing the amount of trash generated each week.
- Recycle paper and cardboard. Recycling cardboard takes 24% less energy and produces 50% less sulfur dioxide than making cardboard from raw materials.
- Think of ways to use packaging materials and ways to reuse items that no longer serve their function.
- Use cloth napkins and plates instead of paper.
- Shred or compost untreated wood and leaf wastes into chips and use them as mulch on garden beds to prevent weed growth, retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and add nutrients back to the soil.
- Have a yard sale to find new homes for clothes, toys, appliances, books, and other items.
- If you are remodeling, donate old cabinets, doors, fixtures and hardware to local charity centers.
- Make it a habit to separate out all items that are recyclable.
- When you mow, leave grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging them or use a mulching mower. The clippings will return nutrients to the soil instead of taking up space in landfills.
- Check with local repair shops to see if they can use your old appliances for spare parts.
- Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic waste to create a compost pile that can help increase water retention, decrease erosion, and replace chemical fertilizers.