plastic in water

Harmony with the Earth | 3 ideas to reduce waste

In the current structure of most developed nations, “harmony with the Earth” may sound a bit fantastical. We’re often taught in school about greenhouse gasses, pollution, and a variety of ecological issues, but how often does the legacy education system put forward any tangible solutions? There is a general attitude in the world today that humans are bringing the planet down, but I propose that it does not have to be this way, and that human habitation can be good for the Earth. In this article, we will look at three, solution-based, within-reach, ideas to reduce waste and live more harmoniously with the planet.

Plastic Waste

Plastic waste, in my opinion, is one of the most important, most visible, and saddest of ecological dilemmas, but I also think it is most within our reach to make better. We’re all familiar with the empty coke bottles floating down river, and beaches glossed with sun-beat plastic garbage. Unfortunately, since throw away plastics were popularized in the 1970s, our society has at large become extremely dependant on the material. We use it for food packaging, medical supplied, toiletries, parcels, etc. and we use non-disposable plastic for countless applications. Plastics aren’t going anywhere soon. So what can we do?

Pyrolysis fractional distillation is a chemical process through which it is possible to turn most plastics into approximately 80% oil, 15% gas, and 5% carbon black. All three of these raw materials are extremely useful and valuable, and introduce a financial incentive for people to both pick up litter and recycle their own waste at home. It sounds like it must be complicated, but the science isn’t too hard to understand. Here’s a fantastic video explaining this little-known chemistry gem.

Although there is extreme potential for industrial recycling industries here, we can also do this at home, reduce our waste and profit from cleaning up and living more harmoniously with the Earth. Here is both a video of a man making a simple pyrolysis chamber in his driveway, using commonly available materials, an angle grinder, a welder, and some other common tools like a glue gun. Below it is also an inspirational short video about a family who recycle waste plastic into diesel and petrol to power their house, their hydroponics system, and help their community.

Composting

Almost everyone who lives in the country is likely to compost their scraps and leftovers, but due to living conditions, this isn’t as easy for people in the cities. Composting is important because it reduces the volume of waste in landfill, and also returns the organic nutrients to the earth, creating rich soil for gardening instead of rotting food trapped in imperishable plastic garbage bags. 

It’s very simple and rewarding. Simply collect scraps in a little composting bin in the kitchen, and take it out to a select spot in the garden and add lots of leaves (for carbon) every time nitrogen rich scraps are added. We can even compost egg shells, which will increase the calcium in the compost (great for calcium-intensive tomatoes). Those shady spots in the garden, where it’s hard to grow plants, are perfect for composting. Here’s a short and informative video about composting, with extra details for best results.

Air quality

Air quality is immensely important, both to our health and to the environment. Although C02 and climate change is, in my opinion, extremely over-exaggerated and wrongly eclipses other dilemmas in the realm of public opinion, air quality is something we should all think about. Both for our own personal benefit, and the quality of life in our surrounding environment, clean air is essential.

Car emissions are a hot subject, many people are now turning to lithium powered electric cars, but setting aside the toxicity of the mining process, such electric vehicles are financially out of the reach of most people.

The heart of the problem, from my point of view, is city zoning. This dictates which areas are for residency, commercial, or industrial buildings. Because of this, in large towns and cities, most people need a car to get around. This causes lots of wasted gas, time, valuable green space, and is terrible for air quality. However, if cities are built for cars and not for people, how can we blame the individual for this systemic fault? There is much to be done at the macro level, but individually, what can we do to improve air quality?

I would suggest growing potted plants on the balcony, and inside the apartment to help freshen the air. Also, when within reasonable distance, we can walk, bike, or even run to where we need to go. This would reduce air pollution from congested traffic, increase individual health both physically and mentally, and bring communities closer together as we pass each other on the street.

 

Thanks for your time!

Thank you for taking the time to read this brief article! You can leave feedback in the comment section below – your experiences and ideas are very welcome. If you are aged 15 to 25, you are invited to join Over to the Youth. We’re just starting out, so it’s a great time to join! You can learn more about this collaboration on our about page, and make an application here.

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