A lot of waste is generated in our homes and it is our responsibility to ensure that we dispose it off properly and don't make it an environmental menace. Appropriate disposal of household waste is something that a lot of people take very seriously, as incorrect disposal can have pretty serious repercussions later on.
Here's how waste is genrally characterized.
- Biodegradable Waste (kitchen waste, paper, garden waste, etc.)
- Recyclable Waste (newspapers, plastics, glass, metal, cloth, etc,)
- Hazardous Waste (chemicals, pesticides, batteries, shoe polish, etc.)
Biodegradable waste is simply best packed into the dustbin and given to the trash-collector. Biodegradable waste includes day-to-day products which come out of the homes, but can be returned to nature. The word biodegradable means that they can eventually be decomposed by the action of bacteria on them and hence they do not remain in the same physical form that they were when they were chucked out. Waste disposal companies and the government work together to collect the waste and dispose it off properly later. Another thing you can do with a lot of the biodegradable waste is use it as a natural fertilizer. A lot of people set up a compost area in their gardens, where they throw a lot of their not-so-foul smelling kitchen waste and the bacteria acting on them ensures that once they are added to the soil, the plants will grow better. But then again, this needs to be supervised properly.
Glass bottles, newspapers, and plastic items are supposed to be given to a different sort of waste collectors who will recycle them. While your daily waste collectors too, may accept these items, it is better that you hand them over to people who can reuse these items, or at least process these items so that they can be reused. In several parts of the world, there are people who will buy these recyclable items from you and then sell them further to companies who will reuse them. Glass bottles remain one of the more commonly reprocessed and reused products. This saves the effort of making newer glass bottles. Same is the case with plastic, which can be recycled and reused. Newspapers too, can be recycled. You will find several products made from recycled paper in the market.
Hazardous waste includes chemicals and other items which could potentially be toxic. They are often dumped into the trash along with all the other waste items, but many environmental protection agencies are advocating that these products be disposed off more efficiently. A lot of drives are conducted specifically for the collection of hazardous waste items. While they too ultimately end up at the garbage disposal, they do not get mixed with other innocuous and harmless items. Hazardous waste is a completely different sort of waste and hence needs to be treated differently as well.
The best way, of course, would be if you could reduce the amount of waste that your house generates. There are several items which you throw in the trash, could otherwise be reused. The most common ones being cloth items of which you could create something new. Like old torn clothes can be cut up and used as hand cloths for wiping and cleaning stuff around your house. Plastic soda bottles can be reused as water bottles. And of course, there is always the option of composting the biodegradable waste which will save you the cost associated with the purchase of expensive chemical fertilizers.
It is a serious enough topic and governments across the world are taking cognizance of it by including it in school curricula. Remember, if you can reuse it, then it's great, but if you have to throw it out, make sure you do so the right way.