Waste Not, Want Not: The Path to a Cleaner Tomorrow

NC sustainabiliy

Waste Not, Want Not: The Path to a Cleaner Tomorrow

September 1, 2023 reducingwaste Comments Off

Reduce the amount of waste

In 2020, economic activities and households produced 8 million tons of non-inert waste in North Carolina, not including agriculture and non-hazardous waste from services. Total production amounts to 54 million tonnes including inert waste. 53% of these 8 million tons of non-inert waste are recycled or reused.

Three main methods of waste disposal are currently in place in NC: incineration, landfill (storage) and recycling. The first two means are not without consequences for the environment, natural environments but also for human health. There is currently no ideal waste disposal process, so one of the best ways to combat the large quantities of waste produced is to reduce its production. This will certainly not solve the problem but will limit the quantity to be eliminated subsequently. Here are some tips that everyone can use on a daily basis at home or in the office to significantly reduce their waste production.

Limit packaging: prefer products without packaging

The quantity of packaging thrown away each year by the residents is estimated at 5 billion, or 0.4 million tonnes of packaging. This quantity represents 23% of the volume of our trash. Half of this packaging would be plastic, the other half is made of cardboard, glass, paper, etc. This represents around 95 kg of waste per year and per inhabitant.

When a product is sold either by the cut or already packaged, it is preferable to buy the product by the cut, thus limiting packaging but also purchasing a precise quantity of product and limiting possible food waste. When purchasing fruits and vegetables, it is recommended to avoid packaging products that do not need to be packaged in plastic bags: melons, watermelons, cucumbers, pineapples, etc.

In addition, prefer to purchase them instead. Retail product rather than products already bundled in plastic packaging. You can also reduce waste by purchasing products in larger quantities (boxes of several kilos) instead of purchasing multiple smaller boxes. In addition, buying a product in larger quantities generally saves money.

Avoid purchasing over-packaged products as we sometimes encounter with yogurts (need for cardboard?), products grouped together unnecessarily or even products with several packages without any necessity. Finally, you can also reduce the amount of waste by reducing your consumption of bottled water and favoring tap water which produces no waste. If you buy water bottles, choose large capacity bottles rather than multiple small bottles.

Limit the production of plastic bags: prefer reusable bags

The number of bags distributed to NC residents is estimated at 8 checkout bags per second. These bags are generally used for 20 minutes and almost all end up subsequently either in a storage center, in the incinerator or in nature with the consequences that we know for natural environments, as they are hard to recycle.

Multiple alternative solutions exist to limit the production of plastic bags such as the use of shopping bags, baskets, backpacks, crates or even baskets. You can also use reusable bags. These are generally stronger and can be used many times. In addition, their generally larger size makes it possible to replace several small plastic bags. To reduce their environmental impact, it is necessary to use them at least ten times. Thus, such use makes it possible to considerably reduce the number of plastic bags that would otherwise have been used.

Limit the use of disposable products

The use of disposable products (razors, wipes, batteries, etc.) produces 3 to 6 times more waste than traditional products. Thus these products are generally thrown away after the first use (wipes for example) or after only a few users (disposable razors) leading to increased waste production.

In addition, using such products can end up being more expensive in the long run than buying a durable product, using less dumpster rentals. You can reduce waste by favoring ordinary dishes over disposable ones, sponges and rags over wipes, plastic boxes over aluminum foil and plastic films, durable razors over disposable razors, washable baby diapers over disposable diapers. , rechargeable batteries to alkaline batteries.

Reduce the amount of paper

Despite numerous awareness campaigns to reduce the quantity of paper in North Carolina, we still use too much paper. It is still estimated today that one sheet of paper in 6 would be printed without being used subsequently.

According to waste management experts in NC, an office worker working in administration or the tertiary sector consumes on average 93 kg of paper per year or 37 reams per year. In North Carolina, we consume around 1 million tons of paper per year: 210 kg/year in the form of newspapers, cardboard, milk cartons, toilet paper, wallpaper, office supplies, cigarette paper…

A few simple actions can, however, reduce the use of paper. The first thing to ask yourself before printing a sheet is whether this print is really useful? In many cases, the use or transfer of computer files is sufficient and can thus limit the use of many sheets.

When printing paper is deemed essential, it is recommended to limit the number of sheets used by printing on both sides. You will also save money by limiting the purchase of sheets. You can also favor the purchase of recycled papers over the purchase of traditional papers (Recycled papers consume fewer resources than virgin fiber papers: to make one ton of 100% recycled paper, you need 1.3 tons of paper recovered from instead of 2 tons of wood, less energy and less water).

Reducing the quantity of paper not only limits the quantity of wood used for manufacturing but also all the necessary chemical derivatives, but also and above all the water essential to the creative process.