Waste Warriors: Paving the Sustainable Path to a Cleaner Tomorrow

sustainability in Grapevine, TX

The time is long gone when it was enough to eliminate your waste by throwing it into the street (from the Latin, e-limen = outside the threshold of the house). Today, waste treatment in Texas is difficult and expensive and has harmful consequences on the environment.

Added to this, natural resources are becoming scarce. Indeed, each waste contains raw materials and has consumed resources (energy and water) during its life cycle. Incineration of waste or landfilling so that it decomposes therefore means wasting these raw materials and resources.

We must, therefore, go beyond the simple treatment of waste by incineration or burial which only aims to reduce their volume. We must address the problem of waste at its roots and prevent it from occurring. To do this, we must adopt sustainable waste management.

This means preventing an object from becoming waste and thus allowing the raw materials of which this object is composed to continue to serve humanity. At the same time, we save the resources necessary for waste treatment (energy, water) and we reduce the pollution resulting from this treatment.

Sustainable waste management

The Texas Waste Management Directive recommends sustainable waste management based on an approach in 5 hierarchical steps. This approach is applied gradually. First, we try to prevent the production of waste. If this is not possible, we try to reuse the materials, then recycle them and add value to them. It is only as a last resort that waste is eliminated.

Beware of planned obsolescence

It is a manufacturing technique (particularly used by manufacturers of electronic objects and household appliances) which consists of developing objects which have a limited lifespan in order to force the user to replace the object more quickly and thus encourage purchase.

The most common form of this practice involves placing a vital component in a device that is of lower quality than the rest of the device. When this part malfunctions, the entire product becomes unusable. The repair cost, made up of the price of the replacement part, the cost of labor and transport costs, is then higher than the price of a new device on the market. It then becomes unnecessary and expensive to try to repair the damaged device.

Waste Precention

Prevention avoids the appearance of waste at the base. It goes through two key ideas:

First, it encourages us to question our real needs. We can avoid or reduce certain unnecessary consumption and thus consume fewer raw materials and produce less waste. You can reduce the consumption of plastic bottles by drinking tap water in the canteen, taking a water bottle or using returnable bottles.

Then, prevention aims to prevent a product from becoming waste. We can buy better quality products that will be used for longer, avoid purchasing disposable products, avoid replacing products that still work very well just because they are no longer fashionable.

Waste prevention therefore requires a change in our habits and our consumption choices. Here are some examples:

  • Reduce packaging. In Texas, more than 30% of the weight (and 50% of the volume) of our trash is made up of packaging. To reduce this quantity, we can buy foods in bulk, choose large packages, avoid individual doses, choose refills, cook fresh products instead of buying prepared meals…
  • Ban disposable items. In recent years, disposable plastic items have become widespread under the pretext that they are more practical. But sustainable alternatives exist. We can use a basket or reusable bag to do our shopping, use a bottle filled with tap water to drink or a sandwich box to pack our snacks. Why not organize a “sustainable” party or picnic with reusable tableware, cutlery and cups, fabric tablecloths, etc.?
  • Avoid food waste. Each resident throws away between 25 and 30kg of food per year that has not been consumed (often still in its original packaging!). Having a shopping list, managing your fridge well and storing leftover food helps reduce the amount of wasted food.
  • Rent rather than buy. We often buy items that we rarely use when it is possible to rent them. This last solution is cheaper and it’s better for the planet! Media libraries, libraries and game libraries offer a wide choice of media (DVDs, CDs, PC games, language methods, etc.), books and games to borrow. Some DIY or gardening stores rent tools. Leasing office equipment (photocopiers, etc.) is an increasingly widespread practice.
  • Dematerialize. This means using services rather than objects. We can offer a cinema or theater ticket rather than a DVD, a subscription to the game library rather than a game…
  • Compost organic waste. Green waste and kitchen waste (grass clippings, peelings, coffee grounds, food scraps, etc.) are biodegradable, meaning they can be decomposed by living organisms. By composting them in the garden, we transform them into compost instead of making them waste.

Reusing objects

Reusing means giving a second life to objects that we no longer use, instead of sending them to the landfills with a dumpster rental. Reuse consists of recovering a product at the end of its life and using it for the same purpose or for a different purpose.

There are two types of reuse:

  • Reuse means reusing an object for a use identical to that for which it was designed. We can buy second-hand clothing rather than new, exchange clothes, books, DVDs, etc. with friends or organize an exchange, use returnable bottles and packaging…
  • Salvage means finding a new use for objects. We can use a shoebox as a storage box, transform an old container into a floor lamp…

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