The more waste we generate, the more we have to dispose of. Some methods of waste disposal release air pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Waste disposal has become a global environmental issue affecting all nations and is a very significant problem in today’s world. Arbitrary and indiscriminate waste disposal has caused significant economic and environmental suffering and cannot be taken lightly any longer.
 Why should I be aware of this?
Needless to say, the house you live in has to be clean, tidy and hygienic. According to some studies, each person produces half a kilogram of garbage every single day. If this waste is either left lying on the streets or dumped outside city limits, it causes unending health and environmental hazards. It is, therefore, important for all of us to:
- Reduce the amount of waste we produce
- Have proper systems of waste disposal
- Recycle/reuse items wherever possible
If we allow garbage to accumulate at the current rate we will leave a world full of environmental hazards for our children. Even our children need to be made aware of our responsibility to reduce waste so that they form a habit from their early days.
 Waste disposal and health
Waste also creates health risks for the family. Almost every household uses (and discards) items that contain hazardous waste, such as:
- Cleaners and solvents
- Garden fertilizers and pesticides
- Durable goods such as refrigerators and televisions
- There are 4,000 chemicals and 500-600 grams of lead in a brand new TV. Once dumped in landfills, this lead, from the solder in the circuitry and the glass of the screen, may leak out and enter drinking water supplies, which, if consumed, can damage the brain and central nervous system.
- Refrigerators containing CFCs, which are ozone depleting chemicals, can also create health hazards. However, new refrigerators are made without CFC.
- Mercury contained in some fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats and some light switches contain mercury. If incinerated, it may cause ash to leach out of the landfills and into the environment. Mercury is harmful to the kidneys and the nervous system.
- Hazardous elements are indicated by the words Poison, Danger, Warning or Caution on the product label.
- Poison - a product is highly toxic, and can cause injury or death if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin
- Danger - a product is either highly toxic, flammable, or corrosive. This will be mostly found on products such as cleaners, polishes, paint strippers and pesticides. "Danger" also indicates that the product could poison you, cause serious damage to your skin or eyes, or easily cause a fire.
- Warning and Caution - a product is toxic, corrosive, reactive or flammable
 All about waste disposal
- Sanitary landfills
Sanitary landfill sites are created to isolate waste from the environment till such time as it is completely degraded biologically, chemically and physically to be considered safe. Introduced in England in 1912, the method involves natural fermentation brought about by micro-organisms. Usually the refuse is deposited in shallow layers, compacted, and covered within 24 hours with earth or other chemically inert material to form an effective seal.
Historically landfill has been the most common method of waste disposal and has remained so in many countries. Producers may have their own landfills or have a common landfill to dispose of waste.
Incineration, also known as “thermal treatment”, involves combustion of waste at high temperature, converting the waste into heat, gases and particulates of combustion. Incineration is particularly effective in the disposal of clinical and certain types of hazardous wastes where pathogens and toxins require high temperature to be destroyed.
Japan extensively uses the incineration process of waste disposal because of scarcity of land. For over two decades Sweden has been using energy generated from incineration and Denmark uses waste-to-energy incineration for district heating systems.
There are considerable health risks posed by emissions from incinerators to the local community. The collective effect of pollutants emitted from multiple units can cause far-reaching health and environmental hazards.
- Open dumping
In open dumping, waste is disposed of in a manner which does not protect the environment and is exposed to health and environmental hazards. Though open dumping should ideally be carried out in secluded areas such as woods and ravines, it is often done indiscriminately in places such as road sides.
Household building debris, construction and demolition waste, household garbage, appliances, furniture, tires, plastic, cardboard and hazardous waste are items commonly used for open dumping.
Open dumping leads to severe degradation of groundwater and environment and plants, animals and human population living around dumping sites are very badly affected.
- Ocean disposal of waste
Though regulated and managed to some extent today, the ocean has for ages been a favorite dumping ground for waste. Up to a point of time the ocean was able to assimilate the waste without any adverse effect. But with increase in industrialization and its effects, enormous amounts of toxic waste in the form of dredged material, industrial waste, sewage sludge, and radioactive waste are being dumped into the ocean, causing irreparable damage to marine and human health.
Waste disposal in the ocean also results in eutrophication which causes severe reduction in water quality and produces oxygen-depleting bacteria that kills marine life. Additionally, such disposal can release toxins and cause excess sediment build-up which can destroy entire habitats and ecosystems.
Researchers are particularly concerned not only about the effects that ocean dumping has on living resources and deep-sea biodiversity, but more importantly on transmission of contamination back to the human population.
 What can I do about it?
Many of our actions that can lead to reduction of waste are really very simple and trivial and done collectively can lead to remarkable results. Here are some ways we can help reduce waste:
- Look for items with less packaging.
- Buy in bulk
- Use and re-use cloth napkins, towels and rags instead of paper napkins and paper towels.
- Choose long lasting, durable items instead of disposable.
- Make sure items are made from recycled material and are recyclable.
- Use and re-use regular plates, cups and silverware instead of paper plates, cups, and plastic ware.
- Don’t dump your household hazardous waste with your garbage
- Before buying any hazardous waste chemical, check to see if there is an environmentally friendly alternative.
- Keep refuse in bins away from animals.
- Ensure that waste is placed outside only on collection day, even where there are community bins. Doing this will prevent the breeding of rats and other insect pests, and reduce the opportunity for dogs to scatter it about.
- Do not dispose of construction waste and bulky items such as beds, television sets, fridges, stoves etc. with regular household waste.
- Lawn and garden trimmings, including tree trunks and branches, should not be put out for collection.
- Buy rechargeable batteries and reuse them over and over again.
- Avoid gift wraps and cover ups.
- Invest in reusable cloth shopping bags instead of using paper or plastic.
- Stop unwanted bulk mailing from coming to your house.
 How to Handle Hazardous Waste
It is, therefore, equally important to know how to store and also dispose these material. Some useful steps are:
- Potentially hazardous products should be identified and avoided
- Buy only what is needed so that it can be used up completely and there is no leftover.
- Recycle those materials that can be recycled
- Dispose of leftover or unwanted products through hazardous waste collection facilities.
- Banned or restricted pesticides, old medicines and products whose safety instructions are no longer readable should not be used or shared
- Some household hazardous wastes, including old lead-acid batteries, button batteries, used motor oil and antifreeze can be recycled
- For many household hazardous products there may be no safe disposal available. These products must be stored safely until your community holds a household hazardous waste collection.
- Do not triple-rinse pesticide containers in a household sink, or outside near drinking water wellheads. If you cannot reuse the rinse water, save unrinsed containers for a household hazardous waste collection.
Recycling means using your used products as raw material for making new products. It saves on raw material prevents harm to the environment.
- Use such products in packaging which you know can be recycled
- compost - lots of kitchen waste can be composted. Contact your local council for details of local composting schemes and details of any compost bin sales.
- Buy products made from recycled materials. Most supermarkets now stock a wide range of these items,
- Find out where your nearest recycling facilities are
- How do you tell if it is hazardous?
- Household waste management
- Ocean Dumping Grounds
- Welcome to Waste Recycling Group's Website
 Additional Information
- A visit to the ENVIRONMENTAL KIDS CLUB is a fun way to help your children learn to care for their environment
- You can go through the Hazardous products lists with links leading to details about eact item.
- Also consider adopting safer alternatives to hazardous household products
- See Recycled Products Guide