Reducing Waste: the 3Rs way

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Garbage is one of life’s unpleasant realities, Toastmaster, fellow members.

This was the opener for my level 2 speach last night. At this elementary level a yearning speaker is required to learn how to organize a speach into a logical, coherent delivery – to get a flow and to cleverly deliver a message. I had a week to prepare for this speach and so many speach topics were coming into my head, I had difficulty deciding on which one. I wanted to talk on water, on raising teenagers, on walking the dog, on saving the planet (your action counts!) – all these topics are too close to me. I just had too much to speak on. For inspiration I search the net and came across a lovely 2nd level speach titled, ‘Are you expecting?‘. And I realised that a speach has to be lively, informative but light weight. I moved away from all of my topics, gave it some time and thought. Then three days to go after talking to Sureka (an STC mum working on a greening project)- settled for this one.

First I will give you my speach – an interesting one that I enjoyed delivering and then I will talk about how I fared.

A few years ago driving past the Aththidiya landfills was unbearable – there was garbage everywhere. Now compacted and a nice layer of soil placed on top, it is used as a playground. However it still oozes and smells during raining days. Underneath lies many, many layers of waste.

Those of you who’s working in Colombo may have seen the garbage mountains of Bloomendhal – this is a place in the heart of the city where all of Colombo’s solid waste ends up. Mountains of unsighly, unpleasant waste.

The hard reality is that we are now generating more garbage than what the system can handle. While the Municipal Council works ona better solution, us citizens can also take some action.

The 3Rs system of soild waste management. The 3Rs system was initiated by the Japanese. Japan was developing very fast during the 1960s and 70s and soon found out they were producing waste at a rate. Japan is made out of a few islands and they are limited by their land mass. To solve this problem they thought of a method to reduce waste. And I am going to relate this 3 step method.

First: the best method to reduce solid waste

  • Reduce
    Don’t make waste in the first place. Buy what you want and use everything you buy. Next time you go shopping keep this in mind. Don’t get carried away, or let your kids make you buy things. Plan what you buy. Buy in large quantities if you think you are going to use it in a month – this way you will avoid buy so many of the small packages. Avoid buying items that come in heavy packaging. refuse to use plastic bags, take your own bags or the reuseable bags that Cargills or Kheels have. When you cut grass on your lawn or trim the branches don’t collect all of that into garbage bags and let the CMC take them away for you. We all do that – you know clean our gardens and leave out the garbage for the Municipal Council to take – we just give our problem to them. Now you know where all this ends up so why don’t you put the clipping under the roots of trees and shrubs, and let nature handle it. Let it decompose and turn into compost. This way you can reduce the amount of waste that goes out of your homes.
  • Reuse
    This is the 2nd method, the better way of managing solid waste. Use an item over and over again,  until it’s completely worn out. You may think this is stingy but the correct word for it is ‘Thrifty’. For example take your old magazines to the Dentist’s surgery – so patients may go through them while waiting for their turn. Like this you can give your unused books – books lying around, collecting dust on shelves – find the time to sort them out and give it to the local charity – the public libaries in your ares. And you know kids need a lot of pictures for their school projects – especially primary school children – give them your old newpapers, magazine, picture postcards or posters. Give your old clothes to somebody less priviledged and these items can have a seocnd life.
  • Recycle
    This is the 3rd way – the other methods are what we must try first and lastly we can consider recycling. Recycling or re-purposing is to take something old and make it into something new. For example you can collect your old newspapers, glass bottles and jam jars and give it to the Bothal Paththara  Karayas. And even if their buying price is absurdly low, and you know they are not giving you a good bargain give them the items because they are actually doing us a service. There are other things we can recycle – take old tires for example, you can take them for trading when you buy your new set. Also plastic cans, we may not have any use for it, but have you seen how the poor people cut plastic cans and turn them into pots to grow plants, or carry water? – same with curd pots. If you have no use for them give it to the poor.Then comes e-waste. This is a problem we had in office. As the IT manager I has to find a suitable way to dispose our broken machine, used cartridges and CDs. We called several places and then came across this company called Ceylon Waste Management, people who collect wasted computers and accessories for recycling. They will collect the stuff, dismantle them and export for recycleing to Germany. Like this take the trouble to find the best ways of disposing your waste – don’t take the easiest option find out what’s the safest.

I would like to end by what Mahathama Gandhi once said:

Be the change you want to see in the World

Because I got carried away with some parts of the speach I didn’t have the time to conclude as I planned. The bell went off at 7 minutes, the timer smiled sweetly and I pained at the thought of going beyond my limit. So I had to cut short leaving out large chunks of my speach.

This is what it would have been like from the end of the 3Rs.

For some people waste is a resource in the wrong place.

Let me tell you a small story. In the rural village of Dindigal, in Southern part of India a group of poor women started a campaign. They went from door to door collecting organic waste, they collected refuse from the market and mixed it with cow dung and soil and made compost. They sold the compost to the local farmers and made a sizeable profit. Not only did they clean the streets of Dindigal they earned money which would be an additional income to their families.

Two Sundays ago, 22nd April was the Earth Day. We must all strive to be more earth friendly – I hope I have given you some useful tips on managing soild waste. I leave you with the wise words of Mahathma Gandhi ” Be the change you want to see in the world

Alas! in both my opening and conclution I was too excited to deliver it with a punch. This is an area I must work on. The drawback of a prepared speach is that your mind works on what’s ahead making it hard to deliver affectively. My evalutor, Shafra said I looked down for 20 seconds or so during my speach. Shame – this must be when I was trying to remember the lines to come. And by doing that I disconnected with my audience. A speech needs some points (like the bullet point above) the chunk of it has to come with the flow and only the start and the end needs to be memorised/planned.

In addition I am still nervous out there. I worry too much about getting it all right.I have to work on this. I need to feel home with my audience, comfortable, relaxed.

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