We're delighted to introduce Rita Idehai. Rita is Chief Executive Officer at EcoBarter, social enterprise with a mission to build a culture of responsible consumption and production across Africa. Ecobarter’s mission is to phase out the “waste” idea - they want a zero-waste world, where every material is 100% reintroduced into another production line or biodegrades. Rita is based in Nigeria and you can see her talking about EcoBarter here.
I always wanted a world without waste, but it's hard to get rid of it. What is your plan to help create this world?
creative_petal, Jabalia Prep C School, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Great question; I agree that it is hard to get rid of 'waste'. But what we can do to get a world without waste is to design our world and economy in such a way that waste from one process is usable as a resource or raw material in another process.
For example, when you are processing agricultural produce like rice, you remove the husk and bran which are the tough outer part that are non edible- in most cases, these parts are discarded as waste, but in a world without waste, the husk and bran will be used in either animal feed production or compost making industry.
So my plan is to keep showing everyone, individuals, organizations and industry leaders what is possible and how they can repurpose what they typically call waste in their space.
Some people don't understand the concept of recycling and throw their trash anywhere. These same people don't make the difference between normal skips and recycling skips. Don't you think that we should first educate people about this problem so that sustainable development and recycling projects happen with the support of a sensitive population?
trustworthy_planet, Lake Bank Pioneer Preparatory, Tunisia
I absolutely agree that the first place to begin is sensitization. With everything going on in the world, most people often push environmental needs to the background, so it is extremely important that we launch mainstream sensitization campaigns to get people to understand how recycling solves common problems of the day such as environmental degradation, poverty, preventive healthcare and even unemployment.
What best advice could one give to individuals and the government to attend to waste management properly and immediately?
motivated_land, Dawhyenya Methodist Basic School, Ghana
Hmmm... The best advice from my end will be to tell them that the Earth's resources are limited are fast depleting, so Waste management is not a problem but an opportunity to generate resources for local industries, provide decent green jobs and foster a sustainable local economy while helping us conserve the beauty of the environment for longer.
We can say no thank you to free promotional items and not use a straw in your drink order when out but there are some materials that can't be recycled or reused. For example, a tissue. My question is how can we prevent waste when a material cannot be recycled or reused?
spectacular_language, Upton Cross Primary School, UK
I think the best way to eliminate materials that can neither be reused nor recycled is by getting the government to make policies to keep them away. However, if a material can easily biodegrade, like tissues, I think they are good for the environment. The sustainable waste management hierarchy places recycling and composting side by side.
To collect waste for recycling, do you need specific machines and materials?
independent_eel, Anglican International Academy, Nigeria
You only need a means of transportation to collect waste. This can be a pushcart, or engine-powered truck and maybe a baling machine to compress your collected waste so it takes less space. But to actually recycle waste into new products, like recycled plastics or metals or paper, then you need a number of machines from crushers, to automatic washing lines, melting machines and even machines form into different new shapes.
Thank you very much for Rita for these brilliant answers!
What have you learnt that you didn't know before? And what questions do you still have?