“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw things away it must go somewhere.” – Annie Leonard
This quote got me wondering for a while. And then, I said to myself, if it must go somewhere, then it goes into the ecosystem to haunt us. World environmental change is a global disruption of a serene environment and is caused by natural ecological processes and human influences – of which improper waste management is a major factor. Reducing, reusing and recycling is known to not only save cost, it saves the world too. People need to choose more sustainable ways of waste management to curb pollution and hence, become more environment friendly.
World environmental dangers to the entire population includes climate change, greenhouse effect, gas flaring, land pollution and degradation, water pollution, air pollution, oil spill and loss of biodiversity. Most of these dangers can be prevented by merely changing the ways by which we manage our wastes to prevent pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the burden of disease in Africa is attributed to environmental risk factors, with domestic and hazardous waste management posing as a major concern . The indiscriminate disposal of waste exposes human to endemic spread of communicable and solid waste related diseases such as bronchopneumonia, dysentery, typhoid and other respiratory diseases . In essence, it is safe to say that the matter of a clean environment is a matter of public health.
Burning of solid and plastic wastes results in air and environmental pollution. Negative environmental impacts from solid waste dumping and liquid waste spillage can be seen everywhere in the world . As such, animals that depend on the environment face a great threat due to oil spills and leaching of chemicals which directly causes soil and water contamination . Speaking of soil and water pollution, biological organisms and their habitats suffer great loss as a result of indiscriminate waste disposal. All of these have led to a need to call for proper waste management to bring about restoration of the eco-system. In light of this, this essay aims to examine what changes need to be made to attain a state of a restored ecosystem.
WHAT SHOULD WE CHANGE?
1.0 The method of waste management should be changed. This can be done through the following activities:
- Waste prevention: This is the first strategy of waste management which limits amount of waste generated every day. Waste prevention can be done by reusing items as much as possible before discarding them. For instance, the initiative of EmeraldScape Environmental Development on the use of reusable bags for shopping over nylon and plastic bags is laudable. These reusable bags are durable, healthy and cost effective, whereas, the nylon and plastic bags will cause more harm than good to the environment and health.
- Waste minimization: In many cases, wastes cannot be totally eliminated from a variety of processes, but can be reduced . Waste minimization involves strategies that will minimize waste and hence, reduce its resultant harm. Ways by which wastes can be reduced includes the following; optimization of resources used in production; use of waste product from one process as raw material for another process; reducing use of non-degradable and non-recyclable packaging materials for degradable and recyclable materials; measuring right size of food items to avoid wastage; and use of household wastes as compost.
- Recycling: This refers to recovery and conversion of waste into new products. Useful materials that can be recycled include; waste paper and cardboard, glass, plastics, clothing, wood and metal. Every tonne of recycled paper or cardboard can save up to 17 trees; two cubic yards of landfill capacity and at the same time generate 4100Kw/hour of electricity . With this, were saving the world and saving cost at the same time.
- Incineration: This is often used to effectively reduce hazardous wastes such as oils, solvents, medical wastes and pesticides . Although the cost of construction of an incinerator is high, the incinerated waste is turned into energy and the volume of waste is reduced.
2.0 Change in the attitude of the citizen: Certain class of citizen are not ready to change from their ancient ways of waste management which supports dumping of waste into streams and rivers. It is believed by another class that there is no proper way of managing wastes, which is responsible for some commuters dropping wastes through the windows of their vehicles as they travel along. It is suggested that the government should use radio and television jingles to address a need for change of these attitude.
3.0 Change in position of the government: The government should change from the position of making it a full responsibility of the citizen to meet the financial requirements of waste management. Also, there are certain remote areas of the city that are difficult to be covered by waste management contractors because of bad roads and long distances. Provision should be made for habitants of such areas to bring their wastes to a central place for collection at the payment of a token for convenience and to encourage compliance to waste management rules.
When one considers the immense dangers of indiscriminate waste management on environment and health of habitants, it is clear that a positive change in attitude of citizens, position of the government and method of disposal is what we need. It might be difficult to get these things done, but with right education, readiness and encouragement, it is possible. If we truly see nature, environment and the ecosystem as a divine work of art, then we must aim to keep and treasure it like it is one.
 Fazzo, L., Minichilli, F., Santoro, M. et al. Hazardous Waste and Health Impact: a systematic review of the scientific literature. Environ Health 16, 107 (2017).
 Elias Mazhindu, Trynos Gumbo and Tendayi Gondo (October 26th 2012). Waste Management Threats to Human Health and Urban Aquatic Habitats – A Case Study of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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