The Ramifications of Mismanaged Trash in the Global Neighborhood

In the last two decades, India has seen a huge increase in trash levels.Blog on Trash According to the India Times, Delhi for example has seen a rise of 2,075% in tons of garbage produced in a day between 2000 and 2015. [1] The lack of infrastructure to properly dispose of trash, specifically in rural areas can lead to serious consequences for those communities.

According to the EPA, mismanaged trash can have a variety of effects including, biological, chemical, and on habitats, all of which effect both humans and animals. “Trash can travel throughout the world’s rivers and oceans, accumulating on beaches and within gyres. This debris harms physical habitats, transports chemical pollutants, threatens aquatic life, and interferes with human uses of river, marine and coastal environments.” [2]

Most pressing for the people of India is the landfills and the pollution the decaying waste causes, as well as the effects on environment and water. Often the landfills catch fire due to the methane gas being produced and these fires are very difficult to put out. On top of that, the landfills are very close to where people live so people are exposed to toxic fumes regularly. Alternatively, communities opt to burn the trash on purpose so as to get rid of it because it is taking up so much space, but this is not sustainable either since the pollution caused by burning plastic is detrimental not only to the environment but to humans as well. India is going to have to continually make the choice between burning trash to create space or breathing in toxic chemicals as long as this trash problem continues.

The trash build up also makes it difficult for rural residents to access safe water which problematic for obvious reasons. Also, the exposure to the waste can lead to dengue and malaria as well as lead to clogging in water tanks and irrigation canals which are crucial to agriculture. Rural areas just don’t have the infrastructure or capacity to manage trash well and keep up with the production of waste. [3]

In the US there is a lot of conversation about whose responsibility it is to control plastic waste. Many people think it is a governments responsibility to fine and ban unnecessary plastic to reduce plastic waste worldwide like Malibu, Seattle, and Fort Meyers to name a few. [4] Additionally, individual corporations are starting to take responsibility like Starbucks. The company has announced that they will transition out of plastic straw use completely by 2020. [5]

In India, many states have implemented plastic bans on things like bags, Styrofoam, and straws to help reduce plastic waste that becomes an even bigger issue during monsoon season because it gets washed up on to beaches and streets. [6] Profugo is also looking for ways to educate community members to be more cognizant of their plastic waste production and the consequences the waste has, as well as more sustainable ways to use plastic waste, like upscaling. Awareness of the problem is the first step in the change of very culturally engrained behavior.

You can reduce your contribution to the global issue of trash pile up by being aware of your own plastic consumption. Simple things like using reusable water bottles, containers, and grocery bags is a very easy way to use less plastic. Additionally, you can donate or volunteer to help different organizations that have initiatives to clean up trash!

 

References:

[1] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indias-rising-mountains-of-trash/articleshow/61611898.cms

[2] https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/impacts-mismanaged-trhttps://www.yoash

[3] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/Rural-areas-sinking-in-mounds-of-garbage/articleshow/27987135.cms

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/03/climate/plastic-straw-bans.html

[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44774762

[6] https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/07/09/626210905/an-indian-state-bans-plastic-bags-straws-and-more-will-it-work

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