Every material is useful and can be used in a variety of ways.
We humans since the age of civilization have been using a material and after new innovation throw that material for a new one. In this process we generate a lot of waste which is formed as we throw material we don’t use. This material finds itself inside a landfill, getting burned or thrown up on streets but those material which we called waste can be used in a lot of ways. For example, an old smartphone can be used in a lot of ways like the precious metals can be extracted or screen can be put on other device for use and inner components to be used in making other devices or to enhance something. A lot of innovations have been made of how can we use these materials to build something.
Use of some commonly thrown wastes:
- Plastics: There have been lots of innovations that are made on how we could use plastics which are the most thrown out material by humans as we throw as humans are said to produce 380 million tonnes of plastics each year which is roughly five times the total mass of humans on earth. There have been numerous ways in which we could use plastic like using it in building roads, buildings, appliances and even in cloth by using plastic fibers. Plastic can be used in a lot of material as it is light, flexible, affordable, and transparent. There have been lots of ways we could use plastics but as it is easy to make it is made and not reused or recycled. This plastic causes problems for the environment as it is non-biodegradable and takes 20–500 years to decompose in the conditions it is subjected to. The Polymer chain present in plastic is difficult to break which is why it takes a lot of time to decompose. We often consider banning plastics, but the better step is to reuse it in a lot of productive manner available. We need to encourage recycled plastics over newly made plastic and if we want new we should buy organic plastic. Furthermore, we should promote reusing of plastic material by making different objects out of it like using plastic in construction of houses and by adding them in making cement and brick adds more strength to it as it connects the brick and cement particle. We should promote these innovations as they can lead us to a massive change in this environmental crisis.
- Glass: Like plastic glass is too used in a lot of ways in our household and is thrown out largely. Glass being fragile breaks easily and is then thrown out, and it is also thrown when it loses its shine. Glass is formed by refining silica at high temperatures. Glass being a transparent element is used primarily in mirrors, windows, screens, and also to carry out scientific studies like in telescope and space probe. There are different variants of glass and there are also glass which are tough but the majority of glass we use are fragile. All glass can be recycled but only one-third of it is recycled to make other glass product. Though recycling glass is profitable but due to new glass being produced much of the glass is not recycled and thrown away as trash. According to many sources glass takes 1 million years to decompose while some other say it can’t be accounted. The better way of treating glass for the environment and long run of humans is by reusing it. Glass can be broken into tiny fragments like conglomerate which could then be used for construction as well as bricks can also be made by using glass like a woman from Namibia did. Glass being corrosion-resistant it can be used in making all sorts of products from broken glass as well as used glass which could be used to make creative things. These innovations and their applications are key to stop this environmental crisis from further disrupting the world.
- Metals: We heavily use different types of metal in our everyday life right from our homes where almost all of our appliance are mode out of metal like mobile phone, television, fans, refrigerators and many more. On an average every human uses 13 metric tonnes of metal is used by a person during his lifetime. They are used while construction and even processing. It is estimated that 50% of metal used is recycled and the rest ends up in trash. Most of it is compressed and stored in landfill. Small devices like mobile phones use up to 30 elements, most of which are metals. These devices can easily be recycled without any damage, but still most of it goes to trash due to our habit of throwing away material as the newer product come. Metals can also be reused for a lot of purposes in making a lot of new products at a low price. Lots of procedure to promote reusing this material for building new material like steel can be easily made by refining scrap iron and also lots of precious metals are taken from appliances like from catalytic converter a significant amount of Palladium, Gold, and Osmium is taken out.
- Waste Water: The world is in the preliminary stage of a water crisis as there is only some amount of freshwater which is fit for human consumption is left. An average human uses 80–100 gallons of water every day which is the equivalent to 300–350 liters of water. Much of this water is wasted as it enters the sewage from our homes. The amount of water wasted by us has been pretty high as we forget to close our taps very often much of the water wasted is fit to be used. There have been lots of innovations on recovering this water but still they haven’t been implemented or taken well by people. On the other hand lots of waste water can be purified and some countries have done so like in Singapore, they purify all the waste water and make it fit for to be used. The U.S. too has made some water purifier that purifies waste water to pure water. The other impurities can be removed and used in making nifty products like a person has made human feces to make fertilizer by filtering it and adding some substances. There have been new innovation is water purification as a man from India made a water purifier from 20 Indian Rupees which is an equivalent of nearly 25 cents. Rainwater harvesting has also been a major development as it stores the rainwater and prevent it from getting wasted. Lots of awareness is spread among the people about the importance of rainwater harvesting but still only a minority of people have applied it at their homes as it remains in contention to have a great impact on water saving for the future.
- Other products: Many other products like wood, vegetative matter, clothes, paper with many other materials are also thrown from our houses as waste. Wood from furniture, buildings and waste is thrown or burnt in large amount. Burning of wood in large amount causes a lot of pollution. While decomposing wood is ideal as it is a biodegradable material it can also be recycled or reused for making lots of material from furniture to flooring it could be also made into paper or even fabric. This reuse and recycle of wood prevents cutting of trees causing deforestation and degradation of the environment. Vegetative matter which is waste produced from food or plants can be used in a lot of ways either it can be decomposed producing manure. Organic fertilizer has gain popularity due to its effect on the plant has been found to be effective. It can be easily produced by putting it into the soil or more productively adding zoonotic bacteria which are special kinds of bacteria used to produce manure. They help in making of soil and quickly make these vegetative waste into absorbable component which could easily be absorbed by plants. Lots of the these vegetative part can be used to make dyes due to their color and much of it is also used to extract minerals from it. A majority of the part is decomposed while the remainder is used in making other products. Other waste such as paper and cloth are also recycled and reused for making essential products.
Joining all of these material together humans are said to produce 2 billion tonnes of waste of which only 30% is recycled or reused. The rest ends up getting to trash. This waste degrades the environment and has great impacts on living creatures. With all recent development and projects undertaken we should play a part on proper disposal of waste. We should before buying a new thing, we should think of proper waste management of the older material and the ways to recycle or reuse it. Today, the topic of waste management is on its peak, and we need to think about effectively managing the waste with new ideas and innovations. If you help to prevent getting waste into our surrounding you will contribute a big part in solving the waste problem and saving your habitat. We need to think of utilizing the old product first than buying a new one. We need everyone to contribute by doing these things to build a sustainable and better future.