5 Ways to Start Waste Management Right at Home
It’s no surprise. Malaysia doesn’t have a solid plan for its solid waste. Between Kuala Lumpur’s flash floods partially attributed to litter clogging drains, illegal dumping grounds, and widespread disregard, waste management seems futile.
But Sweden runs on waste to generate power, and areas in Africa and The Philippines are constructing buildings out of discards. A cleaner, greener environment is possible. The biggest step is always the first!
Here are some tips to get you started on waste management at home.
1. Avoidance / Minimalization
The easiest way to manage waste you produce is by cutting on things that will end up in the trash. Look for less packaging—loose fruits and vegetables, jar coffee and loose tea, and buying things in bulk instead of repeatedly in small quantities.
Take-away packaging may be hard to avoid, but some places accommodate reusable containers. All you have to do is ask!
Arguably the most important part of waste management is the separation of waste. Lumping different types of waste together often complicates the disposal process, as not everything is suitable for mulching or incineration. This leads to landfills spilling over, and the trash is left there regardless of biodegradable properties.
Separate your trash according to these four categories:
- Dry (paper, plastic, glass, metals)
- Wet (food waste)
- Hazardous (e-waste, paint, batteries, expired products)
- Biomedical (expired medicines)
It is important that dry waste, especially food packaging, should be washed clean before putting it in its designated pile. Yes, even those ‘cardboard’ takeaway boxes! You will be eliminating oil and sauce remnants that attract pests, and flattening these boxes will save more space.
Tip: for microplastic waste such as wrappers, sachets, staples, straws, etc, consider combining them into an eco-brick to minimize these types of trash slipping out through the cracks of bigger disposal processes. These eco-bricks are collected to be cheap alternatives to building blocks for rural and low-cost projects.
3. Recycle / Reuse
After separating your waste, determine which ones can be reused or recycled. This is the bulk of your dry trash. This waste has little to no biodegradable quality, and is the mass-produced bulk.
A group like Zero Waste Malaysia posts community advice on upcycling and reusing things; and champions waste management for households.
Fact: Items such as drink cartons are manufactured as Tetra Paks. Malaysia is a recognized recycler, and has the means to transform this waste into construction materials for rural projects.
It’s sad to remember that landfills were created with this specific method of disposal in mind. Agricultural waste was collected for landscaping and soil nutrition, as most waste in olden times were organic. Farmers would use spoiled harvest and manure to cultivate crops, and individual households tended their own gardens with table scraps. Today, the same principle applies (if it weren’t for other pollutants in the mix)!
All you need to do is set up a corner in your garden for scraps and mulch. Not only are food scraps usable, items unsuited for recycling such as grease-stained pizza boxes and paper towels aid in layering.
Granted, this method can be tricky, as space and humidity come into play, and some would rather toss this type of waste out with the rest of the wet category. If you plan to or already have a plant, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and shredded banana peels can work wonders for the plant’s nutrition via soil absorption.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure! Like e-Bay started with a man looking for broken laser pointers for his collection, you’ll never know someone out there needs something you don’t. This type of disposal is for larger things, such as equipment, textiles, and others that are complex to recycle.
Before throwing out a pair of shoes, or have a broken crock pot, seek out local collection centers that strip these items for spare parts, or repurpose them.
A group online that is the Buy Nothing Project (area dependent), where people post giving or needing items others may need/have. Certain places in the Klang Valley also have e-waste collections, and most temples and churches host donation drives for halfway homes and orphanages.
Doing this on your own can be exhausting, especially when convenience is number one, so why not find some housemates that can keep this clean waste management habit going together? Find your green co-living community with Hom today!