For the past two days, I have been pondering on the state of Ibadan’s waste life. I started an article that would be suggesting ways in which the waste situation could be better handled but I kept hitting a brick wall at some point which is why I’d be writing on how I can take control of my own waste life instead, because in ways probably more than one I am also contributing to the mess.
I have lived in Ibadan on and off for 6 years and apart from its water, the other thing that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is the waste situation. I have experienced having to throw waste in illegal places only under the cover of darkness because you can’t be doing that in daylight. Streams, bushes, odd corners, canals are the hotspot for waste disposal. You wake up every day to meet fresh waste everywhere but you can’t complain because your own waste probably came as a surprise to someone else elsewhere. It is a ridiculous cycle. I have had to carry my waste around until I find a dustbin for it because it causes me a lot of shame to drop things in the wrong places.
According to titlemax.com, the average waste generated per person daily is 4.40 pounds which sounds like a lot which explains why there’s a lot of it to be dealt with around here. In a bid to reduce the amount of waste I generate I have decided to buy more recyclable things e.g drinks in glass bottles which would mean I would not be able to drink 5 alive’s pulpy orange or berry blast or Nutri milk since I no longer take carbonated drinks. *inserts tears* I would probably drink more water. Oh wait, I shouldn’t be buying sachet or bottled water because that’s me generating plastic waste. I would have to drink water from home and get a bottle with which to hold some water in when I’m out.
I would also include thrifting as buying secondhand items according to madeleineolivia.co.uk is more sustainable and even pocket friendly. No plastic straws or canned stuff for my fried rice, I’d buy locally and chop them up myself.
I must say that I eat out once in a while and I love to eat anywhere else but in the actual restaurant which results in the purchase of plastic containers which I dispose of immediately and never reuse which is one of the R’s of waste management (Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse and Recycle). I would be eating in restaurants more when I can, to use their plates or I will reuse one of the plastic containers instead of disposing of it immediately.
I would have to buy less of biscuits and other snacks packaged in ‘nylons’ or cellophane, plastic-coated papers etc and buy more that are packed in paper. McVities comes to mind but there’s a plastic tray-like thing inside. Is Mcvities wrapper even made of paper? You know what, I’d just do more of Cabin biscuit.
I would also be reusing polythene bags and refusing to collect new ones at the supermarket or the market. I wish they could use more paper bags instead of plastic but according to a techcabal.com article, our paper mills are not working which makes it expensive.
You are probably thinking, what then happens to detergents, toothbrush, spaghetti buying, rubber slippers, other things that I must buy which would generate waste. Would I be using wooden ones or I’d stop buying until I find them packaged in paper? No. My only option is to make sure I properly dispose of them or find a recycling company to give them to. If I find e.g, a wooden toothbrush, I am certainly buying . Would a wooden bucket work??
Besides, if the state provides evenly distributed skip bins that would be emptied regularly, it would really go a long way. If more recycling places pop up and people are sensitized to make good use of them, it would be a step in the right direction. Burning isn’t an option because it causes another kind of pollution and to me, putting them in the ground just keeps them from sight, they’re still existing somewhere and might resurface years later.
I plan on continually figuring out ways to manage my waste generation better and I wouldn’t hesitate to share it because we all need to be more waste-conscious.
cover picture by Jahangir Alam