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What's the big deal about 'Zero Waste Day' (Part 1).

Updated: Feb 19

Heard of 'Zero Waste Day' before? If you haven't, that's probably because March 2023's edition was the first time it was ever marked worldwide. But how does the relevance of this day measure up against days like International Women's Day that concerns the dignity, value and welfare of 50% of the world; or International Anti-corruption Day that has robbed many of us of access to basic opportunities and realities of decent living; or even World Environment Day that sternly and continually reminds us of how close we are to self-annihilation of the human race? Why can't Zero waste at least be a subset of one of these days? What made the UN decide last year that it was time to give 'Waste' a day of its own?


You don't need to ask for a transcript of their deliberations to know why. You only need to step outside and see how much waste moves in the 21st century: from the house to the gutter, to the roadside, and then to the nearest river. But it doesn't stop there: from the rivers to the oceans, into the fishes there, and then guess where next… back to your dinner table.


And how do we keep responding?


Burying waste out of sight in graves (landfills) does not help because we only have so much precious land left. And no, don't find comfort in the availability of fallow bushes that are safely tens of kilometres away from your city- no government would burn that much fuel every day to move your garbage that far.


And then there's the more toxic type of waste (especially old electronic junk) which, if you knew how they moved, you would probably want to see so many people incarcerated and even executed for the destruction of lives their willful negligence causes.


And finally, there's us, the consumers who consume without thinking about what happens after we throw it away because we think it becomes someone else's problem after it enters our trash can. But remember, waste can move.


You don't need statistics to know that if this general behaviour continues in and around our cities, unabated, without any real solution, soon, what has been buried in the wastelands will resurrect in the health and future of our children and their children.


True, nobody should blame one person or group of actors for a complex and intermingled issue like solid waste management. So don't. Rather, start with you: zero waste is less about what is possible today, and more about what part you should play to make it real in the near future.



A dirty landfill with waste workers
Person at landfill looking for recyclables

Image source: https://www.un.org/en/observances/zero-waste-day

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