Let’s talk about our waste
It is no secret now that we live in a world where waste is part of our everyday life. We generate an astounding amount of waste, over 2 billion tonnes per year and according to the World Bank, by 2050 this could rise to 3.4 billion tons. Out of all of this waste, only 16% is recycled.
This global waste issue has a direct effect on climate change through the production of greenhouse gases. Moreover, human activity for over-production and dumping waste in landfills produces carbon dioxide or methane. These gases cause the temperature to rise, which further leads to melting icecaps, rising sea levels, and extreme weather.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, this waste and recycling issue has become worse. With disposable face masks, gloves, and wipes due to health and hygiene concerns.
We need to act now. But what can we do?
We recently went to the Waste Age exhibition at the Design Museum. The solution here against the global waste issue is to find ways to change our perspective of waste through design.
This exhibition has highlighted the Throwaway Culture, which began in the 1950s with mass production and cheap materials reduced the costs to respond to the capitalist market. Products were made for convenience: use it once – throw it out. This concerns the majority of our everyday products, throwaway spoons, napkins, bottles, cups, packages from lunch-to-go, etc. In 2019, the UK generated 44kg of single-use plastic waste per person.
How can design help?
Designers are reconsidering the value of waste by analysing the properties of discarded materials. To consume less, we need to repair and reuse what we already have and recycle what we throw away. A circular approach to design and materials needs to be considered in today’s design. This approach keeps minerals, metals and materials circulating in the supply chain instead of being wasted.