As what Annie Leonard said in the video “The Story of Stuff”, “Ninety-nine percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport — 99 percent of the stuff we run through this production system is trashed within six months.” This means that we’re embracing a wasteful consumption based on the paradigm of mass production and mass waste. Moreover, we end up with solid waste problems. It is said that these waste problems to be the mirror of Society – a reflection of how we lived – manifested by the widespread illegally dumped solid waste rooted from its underlying causes. But, can we eliminate or lower our impact by buying less stuff that we don’t really need? Well, we suggest you try it and the experience may surprise you.
For now, we’re running out of space because of our stuff. We don’t think about their final disposal. Some of us consider incinerator as a solution to help, but what if the stuff made of toxic materials that can be released to air in the form of gases such “dioxin”, which is probably the most dangerous toxic to humans. Will you just let this happen to slowly kill you, your family, friends, and colleagues? These were just some of the many questions that prompted me to think the future about the management of our solid waste and its diverse possible effects to mankind. We can’t just allow to make this a reality someday and let our children suffer from the things we have done at the present.
The best way to start getting rid of this threat is to understand the problem by going back and examining the stages in generating solid waste – production, consumption, and disposal stage. In this way, we will be enlightened that the problem lies in the previous stages of generating our stuff. For example, we have stuff designed to be just disposed after consumed or stuff that were designed not to be used again. Yet until now, the producers don’t consider the destination of their final disposal after its consumption stage. This means, there can be no solution to this problem if the stages of the generation of our solid waste are not considered as an integrated system.
This is probably why; it’s time to learn 3Es: Empowerment, Enlightenment & Engagement to combat illegally dumped solid waste. Empowerment is the time we’ve known the problem, Enlightenment is the moment we realize and understand the root causes of it and Engagement is the time we take the main actions to target the underlying factors, then the garbage cleanups as the corollary action. We then practice the 3Es the same as we do for the 3Rs of the Environment: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.
But always remember that everything will always start with us. We have our own each individual carbon footprints, but our individual efforts to minimize them will have a significant impact on the environment. This means we take the 3Es on ourselves first. We take this by understanding ourselves in terms not just by our consumption but also in terms of the production and disposal aspects of our stuff we consume every day.