Is our quest for convenience choking the Earth?

MARY OOMMEN –

We are living today in a hyper-connected world leading a progressively hyper-life and continually looking for greater convenience. Our quest for convenience has resulted not only in increased consumption but also a substantial decrease in the mindful use of resources and an alarming increase in wastage.
There has been a dramatic increase in economic activity in the industrialised world over the years. Cheap plastics and aluminium revolutionised packaging and made possible a whole range of disposable and throwaway products. Additionally, technological evolution helped push world economies forward. With economic growth, came increased consumption and everything consumed eventually becomes waste. According to a World Bank study, by 2025, waste produced by cities around the globe will be enough to fill a line of garbage trucks 3,100 miles long every day.
In Oman too, like in most parts of the world, waste management is fast becoming a challenge. Household waste comprising largely of packaging, most of it single-use food wrapping, is creating an environmental hazard that cannot be ignored. A recent study estimates that on average, Oman generates more than 1.7 million tonnes of solid waste each year. Garbage like paper and plastic wrappers, disposables and bottles – both glass and plastic along with food waste, is thrown into bins without segregation. Municipal garbage collectors gather the waste from designated bins around the city and dispose of them at landfills where it emits harmful greenhouse gases as it decomposes slowly over many years. With each passing day, as the volume of waste in Oman grows, so does the urgency with which we must focus on recycling, re-use and energy recovery.
Next time you take out your garbage, take a good look at it and ask yourself – what packaging could I have avoided buying? (Reduce), what can I find a new use for? (Reuse) and what can I recycle or compost? (Recycle).

Here are some ways we can contribute towards reducing our carbon footprint:
Refuse plastic bags at malls and bring your own re-useable bags from home instead.
Reduce chemicals and plastic waste at home by making your own natural and organic cleaners. Mix one part water with one part vinegar and add a dash of lime for an effective all-purpose cleaner.
Repurpose. Before throwing anything way, think of how it can be put to use a different way. Old sheets make great dusting rags, clothes can be donated to those in need, chipped crockery make great indoor plant holders.
Return nutrients from food waste to the earth by composting or mulching
Reduce use of plastic wherever possible, use mason jars and glass “tupperware” to store leftovers instead of plastic containers.
Cook food from scratch and very few disposable food containers will make their way into your kitchen.
Collect plastic bottles and paper and deposit them at recycling boxes placed at locations like Muscat Grand Mall, Our Planet International School in MQ, ABA School and Ahmed bin Majed School in Al Hail South.
What we do with waste generated at home can make a huge difference to the environment. The Sultanate already has in place a robust strategy to resolve the waste management problem by establishing engineered landfills, waste transfer stations, recycling and waste-to-energy projects and setting up solar and energy efficient projects in different parts of the country. Oman has also designated January 8th to be a special Oman Environment Day. On this day, the Sultanate celebrates accomplishments in the field of preserving the environment and achieving sustainability. It also honours governorates in the country that have the best efforts and achievements in the environmental space.
Effective waste management is central to Oman’s sustainable future and critical for conservation of the Sultanate’s natural resources. If handled properly, each of us can contribute towards ensuring that Oman’s challenge of managing waste is taken care of in an effective way.