Waste burning: Its impact and the role of youth to mitigate it

Published On: August 13, 2016 01:41 PM NPT By: Rubin Luintel

Every day I see people of my locality burning waste materials like plastic bags, papers and old clothing. I have seen thick clouds of dark smoke rise into the sky.

Obviously I know that burning plastic pollutes the air while the ashes that remains pollutes the land. I feel sorry because I have not been able to use that knowledge to bring appropriate action. 

Waste burning is a common waste management technique used in most of the pre-urban parts of our country. In these parts, people find this method simple, easy and less time consuming.

Many people burn waste materials in their field. Although they think that the ashes will make their soil fertile, the consequence is just the opposite.

The burning not only destroys essential compounds in the soil but also kills earthworms and other useful bacteria, ultimately degrading the soil’s fertility. Likewise, the ashes are non-biodegradable in nature contributing to land pollution.

Also the smoke released from the waste contains vulnerable gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. In the short term, these gases can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation whereas in the long term, they can affect the ecosystem by accelerating global warming.

These effects are not seen instantly but people will realize this when they have to spend a huge sum of money for their medical treatment. 

Youth holds the reins of the society. They can direct the society in their desired way. Certainly, burning of waste has become a nuisance. And this matter could be controlled if young people can take initiatives. The local youth clubs could play a leading role to aware the public about waste burning. They can even come up with innovative strategies for waste management.

Schools are the best platforms to aware the community. Each child represents a separate household. The youth club can conduct different counseling programs, awareness dramas and several other programs like essay competition and poetry competition about waste management in local schools.

Along with that, we can paste the posters depicting the harmful effects of waste burning, around the public places. Similarly, we can conduct the youth rally program on Environment Day. 

The media is influential today. So, we can use media to help the people recognize the bad impacts of waste burning. The aware youths can even publish their articles in newspapers and magazines. Along with that, we can spread various messages through social networks like Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness among people. 

It is said that waste is not waste until it is wasted. So, we need to teach people different waste reusing techniques. The plastic bottles and wrappers are the major non-biodegradable wastes produced in our household.

These items can be used to make pretty decorative items like baskets, piggy banks etc. We can even use the plastic bottles to fetch water and grow seasonal flowers in them. These common reusing techniques also can be taught in the community.

The governmental institutions are failing to give sufficient priority to the issue of waste management. So, the youths should pressurize these institutions to establish recycling centers around the community.

It seems very vital for us to take solid steps towards the mitigation of waste burning. The change begins from within, if we are committed and determined to change.

We, the youths, should be conscious in order to preserve this beautiful earth for our descendants. Thus, we need to get united to aware the people and co-operate with the concerned governmental institutions, NGOs and INGOs for resolving this issue once and forever.

Rubin is a ninth grader in Bright Horizon Children’s Home School. This is an edited version of the winning essay in the School Level Environment Essay Contest 2016, organized by ‘Clean up Nepal’ and UNESCO Kathmandu.

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