By Pauline Evora
It takes a small effort from each of us to make a huge difference in the world. We don't need to drastically change our lifestyle in order to help the environment but rather, simply rethink our needs and actions. The way we consume and handle our garbage are little things we can focus on, on our own scale. Segregating is not only our responsibility as citizens, it also helps the recycling process and minimizes pollution. But what does that really mean, how does it work and what can we do better?
To segregate is the action of setting things apart from each other. It is important that garbage is segregated in different categories in order for them to be recycled. Australian waste management service Premier Waste explains that when trash are mixed, certain materials like paper and plastic get contaminated. In many cases, it reduces the quality of recycled products, and more trash gets sent to landfills instead of being recycled. Which is why it is so important that all of us start this process at home. The more we recycle, the less we need to produce new material such as paper or plastic, reducing deforestation and fossil resources, though minimizing climate impact.
Hazardous wastes are also a big issue in communities when we do not segregate properly. Indeed, these wastes can be a public health issue in the long term when they are mixed with common trash or thrown to the landfills. Infectious and toxic wastes coming from hospitals and clinics are handled by professionals, but our households may produce some of this trash such as soiled bandages, diapers or old medicines. As per the World Health Organization, when this trash ends up in landfills or on the ground around our homes, they can contaminate the soil and water and spread diseases around.
So, let’s all do our part responsibly. Segregate, reuse what we can, recycle and upcycle as much as we can and think about ways to minimize our trash.
The categories of trash below should be separated into different trach bins. It is best to label each of your bins so the whole family can follow easily. Organic wastes can be kept at home and reused in the garden. Learn more about it in our article about composting.
ORGANIC WASTE: food waste, newspaper, eggshells, natural fiber clothes, wood shavings, leaves and other garden waste, coffee grounds and tea bags
PAPER: office paper, magazines, newspapers, cardboards, books, plain or colored paper, gloss paper
GLASS: glass jars or bottles, glass packaging except windows, ovenware, Pyrex or crystal
SCRAP METAL: parts of vehicles, building supplies, steel, cans, mesh bars, etc.
PLASTIC: any plastic that has been washed, cleaned and dried prior to being thrown
E-WASTE: large appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, small appliances such as blenders or irons, computers and phones, electronics, lighting devices including gas discharge lamps, electrical and electronic tools, toys with electronics, monitoring devices like thermostats, all medical devices, non-ferrous and precious metals, anything with toxic content such as stabilizers or pigments