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To reduce greenhouse gases we need to create less waste to send to landfill

When we dump rubbish in landfill polluting greenhouse gases (methane) are released when food and green waste rots under mountains of other rubbish. This puts more energy into our atmosphere, and it is starting to affect our climate. For every wheelie bin we fill at school and home there are another 70 wheelie bins full of waste upstream that we never even see. But it seems everyone is slow to change the way we look at waste reduction. Why is this? Is it a case of, the less we do now the more you will need to do when you are an adult?

Where does waste come from?

Waste comes from most things we do. The food and drinks we consume, the transport we use, the stuff we buy – everything has waste as a part of its production. Waste is the left over bits that are not a part of the final product we buy or use. Waste is not counted in the final cost – so that things that create a lot of waste in their production are much cheaper than they should be when they get to us. Waste also comes in excessive packaging and presentation of goods. In nature there is no waste, everything is used and reused by something else.

What forms of waste produce less pollution?

The closer we can copy nature with the products we make, the less waste we create. Stuff that breaks down naturally can easily return to nature and become a part of the natural cycle. Not many things that we buy do this. Products that can be easily reused, recycled, up-cycled are also good because they continue to have a second life after their first use. Glass, plastic, paper, metals and cardboard can all be used again and have second, third, and sometimes up to 20 lives as other products. When we throw something ‘away’ there is really no away – everything ends up somewhere.

How can we tell which products are helpful and create less waste?

As you explore ways of reducing waste, you will have trouble working out if the products are any good. Don’t believe everything you read. One way to ensure that you are creating less waste is to simply buy less new stuff. You can investigate how you manage waste at home and school by asking about where the rubbish goes. Do we recycle everything? What about green and organic waste? Is there anyone out there helping people with good advice?

Is Australia doing a good job at reducing waste?

We just need to be less wasteful. Australia used to have a very successful ‘cash for cans and bottles’ recycling scheme. This system still operates in South Australia, the best recycler in Australia. For some reason this scheme was stopped in other states and is trying to be re-started by people who care about these things. Why are they finding it so difficult to get the ‘cash for cans and bottles’ going again? There is another thing called ‘in-built obsolescence’ which means things are made to only last for a short time before they break or a new model arrives and we want to buy it.

So why aren’t more people taking this problem seriously?

What might we do?

We can’t ignore the increasing amount of waste that we are piling up around us forever. The sooner we start the less difficult it will be later. Each of us can take action to be less wasteful. How might we get our school to create less waste? Is your family interested in creating less waste? How can you get other people to listen to you to create less waste? Your future will be a low waste future. So how do we get people to start now so there is less damage to our natural world?