Why is it important to reduce our household waste?

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Every day, millions of people throw items into the bin without even really thinking about it. From expired food to unwanted electricals, humans are producing waste at an alarming rate.

It’s hard to truly visualize the impact of this action, but each year, 2.12 billion tons of waste is
produced across the globe. Whilst some of this is recycled, a huge amount of it isn’t, and plenty of it could have been avoided in the first place by adopting a more sustainable
lifestyle. Much of this waste is generated in our own homes, meaning that we have some level of control over what we’re using. But why is it important to cut down on our household waste, and seek out more sustainable solutions? We take a look.

Landfills are harmful to our environment

When you throw waste into the general bin, it will go to a large hole in the ground, called a
landfill. Over a long period of time, the items decompose, freeing up space. Landfills have
progressed in recent years, primarily to tackle issues such as toxic waste leaking into the
surrounding landscape. Nowadays, sanitary landfills exist, with stricter waste regulations and
controls, but the fact still remains that we are simply burying rubbish in the ground.
Not only does this take up precious space, but methane is produced as the items
decompose, which contributes to global warming unless captured. In fact, landfills are the
third-largest producer of methane emissions in the US.

Recycling takes energy

Being able to recycle items is a great way to avoid them going into landfills, but it’s not a
perfect solution. Recycling takes a lot of energy – to move the items to a centralised location,
to sort them into types, and then to strip them down to raw materials. It’s important to
recognise that whilst recycling is far better than throwing items into the general waste and
then making the materials for new items from scratch, cutting down on your waste as much
as possible is still the best way to reduce your environmental impact.

Many people live in food poverty

Landfill and recycling are the two main categories that might jump to mind when you think
about your household waste, but food waste has a huge impact too. Whilst it’s true that food
waste decomposes far faster than other materials, as it breaks down it releases methane,
which contributes to the greenhouse effect. You also have to consider the wider picture – as
well as producing methane when it’s breaking down, throwing food away wastes all the
energy that has gone into producing it.

Additionally, buying more food than you need means that there is less for others. Many
people in the world live in food poverty, and high demand for items drives up the price in
supermarkets, making it harder for those who are struggling to get even basic supplies.

A zero waste future?

Whilst a completely zero waste future is perhaps a little optimistic for most of us, there is
certainly plenty we can be doing to reduce the waste in our homes. Our collective effort can
make a difference.

Contributed by Alexa Reynolds
Why is it important to reduce our household waste?