Environmental Pollution and the Case for Recycling

Human survival is intrinsically linked with environmental pollution and constitute the biggest challenges of the future, as pollution and contamination of natural resources are adversely affecting global livelihood.

Environmental pollution is the effect of several conditions, including greenhouse gas emission emanating from industrialization and urbanization; residual chemicals applied in industries and the agricultural sector. Environmental pollution is linked also with global warming as it affects world rain forests eventually resulting in the loss of eco-biodiversity.

Environmental pollution is classified severally and is a phenomenon linked with human activity: pollution emanating from industry, stench from human waste as well as water pollution as a result of deliberate dumping of chemical and human waste. There is also pollution resulting from poor management of the environment among others.

Decline in the quality of the environment consequent to pollution is evidenced in the loss of vegetation, biological diversity, excessive use of harmful chemicals resulting in the quality of food produced and the growing risks of threats to life and environmental accidents in the process, what is believed to mitigate pollution end up worsening the situation.

For instance, the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) initially considered effective for insects proved destructive to plants. DDT was instrumental in the fight against the anopheles’ mosquito in the United States of America. The use of DDT in Ghana resulted in the reduction of such delicacies as snails, mushrooms and bush meat. Its use in agriculture is banned and restricted under the Stockholm Convention. Many such incidents owing to environmental degradation continue to affect our societies, but counter measures are hard to find.

It is rather unfortunate that the advanced economies that generate more of the environmental pollution and global warming owing to their production of greenhouse gases in large quantities are unwilling to contribute financial and economic aid to help finance the mitigation of global warming and pollution in the developing countries. On their own many, developing countries including those in Africa are working hard to stem the tide of global warming and pollution by way of recycling. Even though investment in the environmental cleanup could turn in a lot of profit for the industrialized world very few would make that attempt.

Recycling is essentially turning waste matter into useable items. Plastic waste has become a major nuisance the world over and is now one of the few waste products that is recycled in large quantities.

Many countries have taken steps to reduce the production of plastic waste either by recycling or banning its use completely. Rwanda would not allow plastic material into the country and in the United States some grocery and department stores would not provide shopping bags for items sold to customers.

Plastic is usually made from either natural gas or the derivatives of crude oil. Experiments show that up to 40 percent of oil consumption can be reduced by recycling plastic waste. According to this figure, recycling a ton of plastic waste can save around 16 barrels of oil. If the consumption of oil is reduced, it reduces the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other harmful greenhouse gases. The emission of greenhouse gases is also caused by the burning of fossil fuels that can be reduced.

Ghanaians used to utilize leaves – a biodegradable element – to package food. Plastic has, however, replaced it. Not only are leaves biodegradable, but they have been proven beneficial for their medicinal properties, especially with hot foods. On the other side of the coin, hot food in or wrapped with plastic is a recipe for debilitating health issues.

More education of the people may be necessary to drive home the fact that the traditional ways of wrapping food in leaves were better than their adopted ways.

There are indeed several products and items that could be recycled for profit. And they include human fecal waste. Instead of dumping human fecal waste into the sea in Ghana, modern technology can indeed be employed to turn fecal waste into potable water and fertilizer. Ghanaians better brace themselves for water sourced from their own fecal waste in the nearest future if the current rate of polluting its water bodies from illegal mining continues unabated.

The most recycled product in the world is paper. Recycled paper may be used to produce new paper products, which in turn benefits an economy significantly.  Singapore has a more advanced method of recycling that produces electric power instead of the traditional method that obtains power from water.

In terms of energy production and consumption, solar power stands tall. Conversion of solar power into electricity has little or no side effects on the environment. Solar power could be beneficial to Africa and developing countries at least on small scale consumption such as in a home or office environment. 

The environment is a frontier for investment that is immensely beneficial in several sectors in national development. It portends innovative approaches in areas like agriculture and health care and industry.  A lot of jobs could also be created. Indeed, environmental pollution and recycling go hand in gloves, one addressing the other to ensure healthy environment and healthy human existence.

Amandla would continue to endorse and champion recycling and alternative resources for a cooler environment as we appeal to the rest of the world to contribute more to fight the scourge of pollution and, by implication, global warming.

Posted by on Sep 26 2022. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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