As the world is becoming a more developed place, we as humans are developing as well, so it is about time we change a few of our habits. We use too many non biodegradable materials or in other words, unsafe materials. It is actually quite unimaginable at this point a world that uses only biodegradable materials as we have become so dependent on plastics, styrofoam, etc. Materials that are not biodegradable should not be used as much as they already are as they have mostly negative effects on the environment and there are many alternative materials.
There are a countless number of negative effects of using non biodegradable materials. First of all, non biodegradable means that these materials cannot be decomposed naturally by air, climate, anything, and consequently, harm the environment. Items such as plastic bags take approximately a thousand years to decompose in landfills. The Singapore waste statistics website suggests that 11% of the total waste generated in Singapore is plastic, and plastics and non biodegradable materials have long-lasting effects on landfills as well. Also according to the Singapore Waste Statistics, only 2% of the plastic used in Singapore is recycled. This is a terrible thing to happen in a world such as ours as it is basically killing our home. After we use things such as plastic bags, we tend to litter. It is simply human nature. Animals and plants are killed when we litter, especially in the oceans and seas, and this breaks the food chain. According to the about.com Environmental Issues website, hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals die every year after eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food. It is possible to write a book about simply the negative effects of harmful materials, but these are just a few important facts.
There are so many materials that can be used to replace non biodegradable materials. It is crucial that we reuse our items and do not waste what we have. This applies not only for this particular topic, but also for our day to day lives. We should appreciate what we have and not waste. We could use tote or cotton bags instead of plastic, reusable water bottles and containers instead of styrofoam and plastic, and so many more such as glass, metals, etc. I find that it is also the fault of stores as they spoil us by providing free plastic bags. Larry West, professional environmental issues writer says, “Experts estimate that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed and discarded annually worldwide—more than a million per minute” which is a massive number. Every time I go to a store, I notice that the cashiers give out a separate bag for every 2-3 items I purchase. Honestly speaking, I just watch it happen and do not take much action, but it is about time that we start being upstanders and take action for things we believe in. According to Alison Moodie’s Greenbiz blog, a number of big name companies are doing their part to mitigate the damage. Plastic bags have been completely eliminated by stores such as Whole Foods and IKEA. Others, like Wal-Mart are in the process of cutting back on their usage.
People will insist, ‘paper too causes trees to be cut down’, well, paper only damages the environment when made, as it involves deforestation, but non biodegradable materials damage the environment when created and destroyed. According to two sides, an environment website, paper is based on wood which is a fully renewable and sustainable resource; meaning that eventually, non biodegradable materials are going to have a more destructive impact on our planet than biodegradable materials such as paper. The website also suggests, “paper is not a major cause of deforestation globally” which basically leaves non biodegradable materials as the culprits. This also relates back to the idea of not wasting. If we use paper thoughtfully, we can help the environment easily. A big change can be made if each of us plays a small part, and at a time like this, our input is necessary.
To conclude everything, reduce reuse and recycle; this is a very common phrase known by the majority of people, but very few actually follow it. Reduce the amount of unhealthy materials being used, reuse materials whenever possible, and recycle things after use. It is heard a lot nowadays that the world will end someday soon, well you know what? If the world really does end, it will purely be the fault of us humans and taking things for granted. We have to compromise at times and in this case, we have to at least attempt to change our habits when it comes to environmental issues, or we might not live to see what the world becomes in several decades.
"Singapore Waste Statistics 2011." Zero Waste Singapore. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
Belhumeur, Kevin. "What Are the Effects of Non-Biodegradable Waste? | EHow."EHow. Demand Media, 19 May 2011. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
"Paper, Plastic, or Something Better?" About.com Environmental Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.
"Blogs." GreenBiz.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.
We produce various kinds of waste materials due to our day-to-day activities.
The waste materials can be broadly classified into two types biodegradable waste materials and non-biodegradable waste materials.
Biodegradable Waste Materials:
The waste materials that can be broken down or decomposed into simple substances in nature, by the action of microorganisms, such as bacteria, in due course of time are called biodegradable waste materials.
The biodegradable waste decomposes naturally and becomes harmless to humans, other organisms and environment after some time. For example, dead plants and animals (including bones), animal excreta (cattle dung, urine), leather goods, tea leaves, wool, paper, plant parts, hay and wood, cotton clothes, cardboard, seeds, grains and compost (manure made from decayed plants and vegetable stuff) are all biodegradable materials.
Image Source: upload.wikimedia.org
Non-Biodegradable Waste Materials:
The waste materials that cannot be decomposed to simple, non-poisonous substances in the nature are called non-biodegradable waste materials. For example, plastic, polythene bags, synthetic fibres, glass objects, metal articles like aluminium cans, silver foils, certain detergents, fertilizers, pesticides like DDT and radioactive wastes. For instance, DDT is a non-biodegradable waste.
It cannot be degraded or decomposed into simple compounds by the action of microorganisms in nature. Thus, it gets accumulated in the environment and harms humans, other animals, and even vegetables and plants. Thus, DDT has been banned for use in most of the countries.
Recycling of Biodegradable Waste:
Some of the biodegradable wastes can be recycled to restore our natural resources and ecological balance. We may again use the products of recycled materials for our day-to-day activities.
Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution:
i. Effluents from industries and factories should not be allowed to enter the soil indiscriminately.
ii. Drainage system should be so developed that the polluted water does not get mixed up with the soil.
iii. Proper toilet facilities should be provided to all and awareness should be created about the harmful effects of defecation in open places.
iv. Fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides should be used judiciously so that excess chemicals are not washed into the soil.
v. Safe methods of disposal of domestic, agricultural and industrial solid wastes should be adopted.