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Reducing home garbage

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th May 2010 03:00 AM

THE ultimate way to combat the garbage is by reducing what we throw out of our homes. In the past, homes had small landfills in the backyards where they disposed of rubbish and later burnt it.

THE ultimate way to combat the garbage is by reducing what we throw out of our homes. In the past, homes had small landfills in the backyards where they disposed of rubbish and later burnt it.

By Titus Serunjogi

THE ultimate way to combat the garbage is by reducing what we throw out of our homes. In the past, homes had small landfills in the backyards where they disposed of rubbish and later burnt it.

Banana peels and food leftovers were always taken away by neighbours who had gardens or kept livestock. There were also scavengers who would gladly relieve homes of scrap metal, old glass and plastic bottles.

Today, there is barely space for landfills. Houses are being built in the smallest spaces. Scavengers are no longer allowed in some neigbourhoods because some of them are petty thieves.

Other residences, like the Martin Road flats, use neighborhood collection points where families dump the garbage. Other households simply place grocery bags full of waste on the streets. Homes are required to pay sh10,000 and above per month for garbage collection.

Little wonder that we hear complaints everyday about public waste and trash being dumped in the wrong places or not collected at all.

Smelly rubbish dumps and drains clogged with filth are familiar to many residents of our cities. “One of the concerns about landfills is that the garbage gives off a gas called methane, which seeps into the soil and eventually migrates into the basements of homes. This gas could explode anytime. Landfills also seep poisonous liquids in the soil, and in wells,” says Dr William Sembajjwe, a Makerere University don and researcher who has done extensive work on appropriate waste disposal for Kampala homes.

He says 60% of the garbage produced in homes consists of organic stuff like banana peels and left-over food. These contain a lot of moisture so it is wise to keep them away from the vicinity of the homes to avoid sunshine and rain acting on them or to avoid vermin feeding.

Studies indicate that on average, each person in urban areas produces half a kilogramme of garbage daily.

Sembajjwe says the best way of combating the time-bomb is by reducing garbage generated in our homes. He also gives some tips on how to do it:

Recycle
When possible, put old packaging and goods to use. Glass jars can double as storage containers for sugar. Plastic and paper bags can be reused when you go back to the grocery store. Old bedding and clothes can be made into floor mops or rags. Use rags or washable mops to clean floors.

Re-usable versus disposable
Urban households are more exposed to the “disposable economy”—cheap products meant to be used once or twice and then thrown away. This translates into more money for companies—since you have to keep buying their things—and more waste in our landfills. Choose cloth napkins instead of paper, cloth diapers instead of disposables, metal and ceramic dinnerware instead of plastic and paper. Supermarkets are teeming with re-useable carry bags, re-chargeable batteries and re-usable jam jars.

Dispose garbage to people who need it
The most popular items for scavengers include scrap metal, bottles and most household plastics excluding buveera. If scavengers do not come to your neighborhood, you can drop by any of the Juakali stalls in Kisenyi suburb or the bottle dealers at Kisekka Market and make an offer.

Engine oil, used car batteries, used fridges, wood, old mobile phones, are all useful to these people. Of course left over food can be incorporated into food for the dog at home. Banana and sweet potato peels are needed by people who keep cows and pigs at home. Donate old clothes and shoes to charity.

If you choose to dispose of excess garbage in this manner, separate the wastes so that there are different cans labelled; “glass”, “organic”, “plastic”. This makes collection by recyclers easy.

Repair
Many people throw out old things because of a fixable problem, or because they do not need them anymore. Before getting a new one, try to repair the old one first and continue using it. If you are fed up of it, give it to someone who needs it.

Train kids on how to manage garbage
All good habits start from home. If you see a person throwing rubbish out of the window, it is because of poor upbringing.

Incineration
Once we have reduced, re-used and recycled, the remaining waste can be raked out to dry and burnt.

How to deal with garbage odours
There are many people who dump their household garbage in a can on the verandah and thus must live with its stench. Wash out your garbage can to keep the smell away.

Reducing home garbage

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