By Jemal Durdykova
Did you know that 1 person in the USA produces over 900 kg of waste every year? That’s about 2.5 kg per day. In Russia, each person generates about 400 kg per year. This includes paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. Can you think of how much waste do you produce? How much of it is paper? Glass? Plastic? What else do you waste? How do you handle it?
What’s important is how each citizen and visitor of any country handles waste.
Working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the framework of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) project together with over 20 national ministries and agencies, we promote new model of behavior among residents of Ashgabat. We encourage to change the attitude from “trashing” the waste to practicing “waste management”.
We call trash and waste everything that we throw into the trash can, everything that is no longer useful to us or that has become unusable for one reason or another. However, the confusion of the concepts of “trash” and “waste” is one of the fundamental mistakes that led to the littering of landfills on a global scale and, as a result, to environmental pollution and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Why we want people to stop calling waste a “trash”? Because when you think about waste as trash, you intuitively want to throw it into the landfill. Trash is something that you don’t need. Whereas “waste” is something that was generated because you didn’t use your resources to the full capacity. Waste is a result of abundance of the materials. Considering this, waste must not be trashed, it must be recycled, reused and reduced.
If we all begin to take a closer look at what we throw away, we will definitely notice that we can give a second life to many of these things. For example, plastic, glass, paper, aluminum and tin cans, old clothes, old household appliances can be sent to recycling, not to a landfill.
All of the above is not a trash, but waste, recyclable materials that can be reused, recycled and reduced. While trash is everything that cannot be recycled or reused. If we keep sending everything without consideration into the landfill, we increase the pressure on the environment and exclude the possibility of getting something useful from waste.
While raising awareness about the waste management among the residents of Ashgabat, we have created multiple partnerships with the private sector and private citizens. Our partnerships allowed us to give positive examples of the change that we want to see. We also encouraged our relatives and friends to practice waste management. As a result of two campaigns on waste management during 2019-2020, we have collected over 36 tons of plastic, 4 tons of paper and 1.5 tons of glass.