How much waste do we produce?

During the 20th century where technological innovation was progressing faster at an unprecedented rate, the world witnessed a surge in commodities which helped life become more simple. However, now we understand that consumerism is one of the biggest problems which causes climate change. For example, in 2016 the UK generated approximately 41.1 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste. This is more alarming when looking at the scale of waste globally and the ways waste is produced.

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One way modern society produces so much waste is through fast fashion. The fashion industry greatly impacts the planet by the ways that textiles are made and the by-products which pollute the environment. It is stated that every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. Fast fashion is also a humanitarian crisis as well, with textiles workers often forced to work long hours with little pay. This is an industry which is large in scale but also present large problems to us and the environment.

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Another way we produce so much waste is through the food industry. It is estimated that one-third of all food produced goes to waste. We not only waste food but also the energy and water used to make the food produced. As the global population continues to grow unprecedentedly, we need to figure out ways to feed people more sustainably.

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Finally, another way waste is produced is through the by-product of toxic waste caused by numerous activities such as manufacturing, farming and construction etc. It is estimated that in 2020 we have produced 355 million tonnes of toxic waste worldwide. Fortunately, toxic waste is more regulated than it once was but we still have large corporations and government dumping toxic waste illegally in the ocean or in developing countries. For example, Sir Lanka recently returned toxic waste which was imported to their country by the UK. Demonstrating the lack of international cooperation and consideration taken with the waste produced in developed countries.

In summary, we are living in a time of advance technological innovation but also a time where we produce the most waste without real thought or consideration for what this is doing to us and our planet. If we could spend more time looking toward sustainable solutions to the problems that we ourselves create and less time on industries such as fast fashion, maybe a healthier future may be all the more plausible.


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