Small Ways To Reduce Waste At Home | From Zimbabwe to Anywhere

by | Aug 3, 2016

There’s a feeling that perhaps there shouldn’t be words for – when you open your inbox while working in Los Angeles and find a heartfelt note from a sixteen-year-old living in Harare, Zimbabwe who has been moved by your work, by your seemingly small contributions to the world. That’s just what happened a month or so ago, not long after reimagining and relaunching OTW. Lulu and I sat in separate rooms across the city, but from the emails we passed immediately upon receipt of this across-the-world note I think we welled up at the same moment. These days, feedback loops are constant, more complex than ever and EXHAUSTING. To truly pluck out an overall sentiment can be like finding a needle in a haystack. So we focus on following our hearts and what feedback we can make sense of. And Belinda’s beautiful and precocious pitch to contribute stories on sustainability and mitigating waste was feedback that people are deriving pleasure and worth from what we’re doing. For that, we feel crazy blessed. So, meet Belinda, and read on for her tips on what you can do around the home to slow waste and kiss the earth a little more passionately.

Hi, I’m Belinda.

I’m sixteen-years-old, and I currently live in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. I was born here, and I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m currently attending school in Harare, and I am writing my IGCSE exams this year. I’m passionate about science and technology and how it can be used to benefit people. Quite recently, I was involved in a school project to do with environmental sustainability, and it sparked an interest in learning about the environment and how to conserve it. I also enjoy writing and reading everything from Shakespeare to Hemingway to Oscar Wilde to John Greene, and one day I would love to write a book. I am also interested in art and learning about different cultures in the world. Two years ago, my family visited Paris and last year Rome, and these trips taught me so much about the world and myself. I want to travel the world someday and acquire as much knowledge about it as possible.


Some Small Ways We Can ALL Reduce Waste At Home:

If you’re anything like me, you are probably somewhat aware of some of the problems the world is facing in terms of managing the waste we are producing. But how many of us are actually doing anything to help? Quite recently, I began researching on the general issues that the world is facing with waste disposal, and what I found surprised me quite a bit.

I’m from Zimbabwe, and after doing some research on waste disposal in my country I found that there is an overwhelming amount of waste that is taken to landfills or left in a pile in open spaces near homes in some of the higher density parts of the country. It is all poorly taken care of and is a health hazard to those living near it. I also discovered some of this waste can be easily dealt with at home, as some of it is food waste we produce in our kitchens. In order to make a fair comparison, I read up on waste disposal in the U.S. and other countries, and I found that more food is thrown out in America than plastic, paper, glass, metal, wood and rubber. As much as it may be difficult to fix these issues, I feel there are still little things we can all do in our homes to reduce the effects.

A great way to deal with some of the food waste we produce is to compost it and use it in our gardens at home. All you need to get started is a compost bin. The key ingredients in compost are brown materials, green materials and water. The browns include materials such as dead leaves and twigs, which you could probably find in your back yard. The greens include vegetable waste, coffee grounds and fruit scraps, which most people produce regularly. Your compost needs to have an equal amount of browns and greens. The browns provide carbon for it, the greens provide nitrogen and the water adds moisture for the organic matter to decompose. The compost needs to be kept in a dry spot in your garden, and it will be ready for use in about 3 months. This is helpful because it decreases the amount of waste we are adding to the landfills and provides a good fertilizer for your garden.

Another way to easily manage the waste we produce is to use cloth bags whenever we go grocery shopping instead of plastic bags. Plastic is not biodegradable and takes years to get rid of in landfill sites. Reducing the amount of plastic we use could do a lot of good for the environment in the long run. Buying food with less packaging can also drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce. In addition to this, you could try making your own detergents at home. There are plenty of ways to do this, and it is not expensive to do so, though not all of us may have the time to do this. If you are one of these people, you could try buying refills for cleaning products so you don’t have to throw away as many containers. You could also reduce the amount of paper you use at home by getting your news online as opposed to newspapers.

Another great way to reduce waste is to donate any items you do not need any more to be reused instead of throwing them away. Old clothes can be donated to fabric recyclers and charities. This is helpful because it reduces waste and benefits someone else at the same time. Old furniture and books can also be donated to people in need. There are plenty of simple ways, including some I did not mention, that we can reuse and reduce our household waste. If each of us makes a conscious effort to do this it could benefit our environment tremendously in the long run.