Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – these three words are important to the survival of human life and the planet as a whole and cannot be over emphasized.
The term pollution refers primarily to the contamination of air, water and land by waste. In recent years, this global pandemic has approached crisis proportions throughout the world.
How Bad Is It Right Now?
As of 2014, Pollution has been declared the world’s greatest environmental health risk according to the World Research Organization (WHO), contributing to 1 out of every 8 deaths.
Outdoor pollution contributes to 3.7m deaths each year, about 80% of which results in incidences of stroke and heart diseses that are linked to pollution. Indoor pollution which tends to result from cooking over coal or wood stoves contributes to 4.3 million deaths each year.
In other words, the simple act of breathing in the average city is more dangerous than poor diet, lack of exercise and tobacco. More people die of respiratory diseases caused by breathing polluted air than smoking tobacco every day.
As at 2012, the world was generating an estimated 1.2 kg of waste per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes overall, per year). By 2025 this will likely increase to about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tonnes per year). For example, Lagos State Waste Management Service has estimated Lagos state to be a population of 18 million people with a growth rate of 6%-8%, and an estimated waste generation figure of 10,000 metric tonnes per day (1 ton = 1000kg).2
What Can We Do About It?
A vital way to avoid the progression of these shocking statistics is to practice the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
One of the many ways we can reduce waste is by utilizing only what we need.
The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance estimated that nearly 3.7 million tons of copy paper are used annually in the United States alone — over 700 trillion sheets.
Reusing an item several times before repurposing or recycling it prevents waste. Businesses can benefit by reusing containers and paper as well. Companies often have to pay for trash disposal and throwing out less trash means lower costs. Flipping used paper over and printing on the other side saves money on buying new paper and disposing of used paper.
Research shows that 50% of Business waste come from paper waste.
Recycling takes very little effort; sorting out plastic and glass bottles isn’t such a big deal. Anyone can do it. Recycling allows products to be used repeatedly over time and recycled products give landfills space for other waste.
According to the Bureau of International Recycling, One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 kWh of energy, 16.3 barrels (2,604 litres) of oil.
The responsibility is on all individuals and corporations to find ways to conserve and replenish natural resources so future generations have a chance at healthy living.