After industrialized era came, human’s life totally changes into fast, instant, and modern way. In the past, we used goods that are not simple and not durable because it is made naturally without human’s manipulation. For packaging rice or foods for example, we used banana’s leaves or hardwood tree’s leaves. Because these are impractical (people should gather a number of leaves and select them), and their durability are very short (probably no more than 1 week), then human replace them with other products that are simpler, more durable and cheaper; they are plastics.
Nowadays, plastics are common things used everywhere. Furniture, household-wares, electronics, packages, and even cars use plastics as their components. Not only are plastics easy to use and to find, but they also bring other additional values. Foods wrapped by plastic are more interesting for people, especially children, than food wrapped by leaves. As a result, plastics are produced massively and intensively for many kinds of utilities. Then, their prices can be pressured and are cheap.
The use of plastics is only one example. Other examples, such as the use of aluminum cans, glass bottles, iron and steel devices, etc., also have important effects for our life style. Unfortunately, this way brings a new problem : un-biodegradable waste. Environment needs much more times, perhaps hundreds or thousands years, to decompose them, or they cannot be degraded forever.
The Earth from Above, a television program launched by Metro TV, has broadcasted news about plastic ocean in Hawaii. That program showed us how plastic and other un-biodegradable waste cannot be decomposed easily and brings negative impacts for the creatures. Many marine faunas, such as fish, turtle and water birds, died because they swallow plastic materials or are trapped on garbage.
Besides that, other reason causing our waste problem is our consumptive life style. We consume not only what we need, but also what we want, even it is not essential. Consequently, we produce more rubbish than should be. If this situation happens continually, the earth will be exhausted and will reach its saturation point. As a consequence, this will kill the life directly or indirectly, including humans.
To deal with that situation, we should make an action and a real contribution to save the world. It is an activity that is easy to say but is very difficult to be implemented, depends on our willingness and needs our patience. It also requires our sacrifice, including changing our bad habits. It is 3R movement : reduce, reuse, and recycle.
This writing discuss about the concept and real example of 3R. Hopefully, it can bring us into new paradigm about how important to implement the 3R concept. We should accept and implement it into our way of life because we do not have any choice. We must save the earth before it died. If not so, we also will die because of our own fools.
REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE
Reduce means to decrease or to shrink the use of things that can litter the environment with un-recycled garbage, such as electronics, battery, etc. (Nugroho and Ghali, 2008). To succeed the reduction, firstly it needs individual consciousness about the effect of his/her behavior. Often we consume additional foods (snacks) besides our main menu. Even it is not needed, we still do it because we cannot control ourselves to enjoy their seducing tastes. Then, problems, such as healthy problem and environmental problem caused by garbage, come later.
Not only consumptive on foods, but we are also very excessive in consuming unneeded goods. In the name of life style, we exchange our old gadget, cell phone, laptop, iPod, LCD TV, and many others, with the newest ones, even the older one still has good function. This bad habit will increase the waste’s volume. In addition, electronic wastes are very dangerous for health, and are difficult to be processed into other forms. Lead, mercury, and cadmium contained in battery will be toxic and harmful for animals, plants, and environment (Department of Sustainable Development, 2002). They will contaminate air, soil and ground water, if they are not treated carefully.
Secondly, to promote reduction, we need regulations and incentives from the government. American and Danish experiences teach us how government has important role in reducing waste problem. Government can make regulation to ban some certain kinds of packaging that are difficult or impossible to be broken down naturally, such as food package made of plastic or styrofoam. Government also can give incentives for manufacturers that can produce longer lasting products that use fewer inputs and for manufacturers that take back and recycle their products (Daniels and Daniels, 2003). Incentives can be eco-friendly product labeling, tax reduce, etc.
Based on Daniels and Daniels (2003, p.152) reuse means that “a product can be used again with little or no processing”. As an illustration, we can donate our clothes or our children’s clothes to other people or children if it is not used again. Therefore, they can reuse our unused goods. Other case is we can buy used furniture or exchange our used things with other people who have the same needs and wants. By doing this, we have already saved raw materials, energy, and environment.
We should not throw our used newspapers or magazines into trash bin. We can reuse them as wrap papers to substitute plastic bag’s function. We also still can use used bottles and reuse them as vases, terrarium (gardening in the bottle or other glass containers), aquarium, interior accessories, etc. It is also a good idea if we try to reuse rejected paper for certain necessity, such as for drawing, hand notes, and doodling. In addition, almost every day we buy mineral water in plastic bottles or cups, but often we forget to reuse them into other usage. But actually they still can be used as cocktail cups, lampion, daily water jug (as far as it is not damage), handicraft, etc.
Recycling is the reuse of unused things as raw materials for making other new products (Daniels and Daniels, 2003). Actually, everything that lies out in nature will be broken down by the nature. But, the period of how long it can be degraded is different for each. It can be illustrated as follows :
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Time Needed to Decompose
Orange and banana peels
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2 – 5 weeks
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3 – 12 months
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1 – 5 years
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30 – 40 years
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10 – 500 years
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100 – 1000 years
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4000 – 100,000,000 years
Source : adapted from www.tingtaler.dk
Therefore, we have to recycle our waste in order to save the earth. In addition, By recycling we can conserve limited resources, save energy, creates jobs, reduce problems associated with litter and trash (California Environmental Protection Agency. 1997). Moreover, Friends of the Earth (2008) argued that recycling can save raw materials, generate cash, reduce our impacts on climate change, and help us toward sustainable living. By recycling, we also can reduce emission of CO2. Recycling 1 kg of steel can save a CO2 emission of more than 1 kg, recycling 1 kg of paper can save a CO2 emission of more than 1.5 kg, recycling 1 kg of plastic can save a CO2 emission of more than 2 kg, and recycling 1 kg of aluminum can save a CO2 emission of more than 10 kg (www.tingtaler.dk).
Even recycling is very important, the success of recycling programs relies on participation of consumers and producers and on regulations (Daniels and Daniels, 2003). So that, we should be aware ourselves to support and contribute recycling.
POLICY AND ACTION
To succeed 3R movement, it needs policy and real action. Policy will guide us about the play rules and describe the roles of each party. Meanwhile, real action is the implementation of policy itself. These two aspects are related and cannot be separated.
Practically, 3R movement has been applied by several communities, particularly in Indonesia. In Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara for instance, local people walk around their homes to look for food waste every day. They collect it door to door in purpose to feed their pigs. This way is effective to solve household waste problem.
Furthermore, there are many programmes, launched by societies, NGOs, private companies, government, etc., are made and are associated to reduce, reuse, and recycle, such as training on making compost (fertilizer), provision on sorting waste bin, and campaign through many different kinds of media
Those efforts, recently, show significant impacts. The awareness of our societies to do not litter into river increases, especially in the areas that have been provided temporary waste disposal site. Our communities also begin to think how to use their waste. There are many home industries that operate handicraft and souvenir businesses by using used or recycled materials. They also start to use their feces or their cattle’s feces for several purposes. As mentioned by Wulan (2009) for instance, community in Gunung Kidul tries to alter their feces into biogas. Not only does this way solve their environmental problem, but it also saves their money that they should allocate to pay feces removal service.
Besides that, suggestion to enforce the law about anticipating the increase of plastic garbage also comes from the community. As a result, government then makes policy to accommodate that demand. In Bandung for instance, local government of Bandung Municipality is attempting to socialize the local regulation on waste management (Peraturan Pemerintah tentang Pengelolaan Sampah) which in that law contains regulation about banning on plastic bag. This regulation will be effective to be implemented in 2012 (Sarasa, 2010).
In national scale, Government of Indonesia also has Act No. 18/2008 on Waste Management (Undang-undang Pengelolaan Sampah). This act controls every person to handle her/his waste with care and eco-friendly. It also makes producers compulsory to process waste of their products that cannot be decomposed by nature, as a producer’s responsibility in protecting environment. It is also expected that it will trigger producers to use environmentally-friendly raw materials (KLH, 2008).
To sum up, in general, Indonesia has to struggle to manage its waste problem. Even the act has already made and Indonesian citizens tend to be more aware, the efforts should be implemented harder because not all those wastes can be managed. Jakarta, as the foremost city in Indonesia, for example, only can reduce 7 % of its total waste (Republika, 2010 in KLH, 2010). Hence, implementation of 3R should be continued and involves all parties. Hopefully, our involvement can save our environment from disaster caused by human’s greediness.
California Environmental Protection Agency. 1997. The Illustrated History of Recycling. California Departement of Conservation.
Daniels, T. and K., Daniels. 2003. The Environmental Planning Handbook : for Sustainable Communities and Regions. Planners Press. Washington, D.C.
Department of Sustainable Development. 2002. Environmental Guideline for Waste Batteries. Nunavut.
Friends of the Earth. 2008. Recycling : why it’s important and how to do it. London
KLH. 2009. Status Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia 2008.
KLH. 2010. Status Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia 2009.
Nugroho, A., and Ghali. 2008. Tetap Berkelas dengan Barang Bekas. Jejak Magazine, p. 8 – 10. Vol. I/2, June 2008.
Sarasa, A.B. 2010. 2012, Perda Larangan Kantong Plastik Efektif. Published on Monday, 20 December 2010. Accessed on 12 May 2011 at www.seputar-indonesia.com.
Wulan, M.K. 2009. Biogas Kotoran Manusia Terus Dikembangkan. Published on 1 November 2009. Accessed on 12 May 2009 at www.kompas.com.
www.tingtaler.dk. Waste and Recycling. Accessed on 10 May 2011.