Waste not want not

By Ayesha Pervez
Fri, 06, 24

One must be conscious of the impact the production of goods has on our environment and ultimately our planet....

Waste not want not

The act of wasting anything indicates irresponsibility and imprudence. Consumer goods, whether perishable, non-perishable, or tangible, utilize materials, time, money, and labor to process, produce, and manufacture. These items are then purchased with someone’s hard-earned money, so to carelessly discard them is certainly objectionable.

One must be conscious of the impact the production of goods has on our environment and ultimately our planet. More often than not, a significant amount of very valuable resources are used in the production process. Did you know that it takes 10,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of cotton? In other words, it takes 2,700 liters of water to produce a single cotton shirt. Therefore, one should buy clothes with the intention of wearing them frequently. Unwanted but still usable articles of clothing should always be donated rather than cast aside or thrown away. It may alarm you to know that textile materials can take over 200 years to decompose! While decomposing, fabrics release harmful gases and toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

Hence, I disagree with the notion of purchasing a dress for one-time wear only. It seems to be such a sad waste of resources, cloth, embellishments, time, labor, and money. When choosing clothing, one should keep in mind factors such as comfort, timelessness, and quality so that they can be worn often and endure longer.

When buying food and groceries, one should make sure to buy only as much as will be consumed before it spoils. Perishable groceries should never be bought in excess, and if one fears their produce might expire before being used, it would be judicious to donate it. Certain fresh foods can also be given to stray animals and birds. One should ensure that nothing is rotting away in their fridge or pantry.

In many cases, waste is induced just so money can be made. Schools require students to buy new notebooks for the second term of the same grade/class, even though there may be ample space left in the first term notebook. This is so students will purchase new notebooks. As a result, many virtually empty notebooks are tossed into the garbage at the end of the school year. Instead of being discarded, the unused paper can be used for art or any other kind of work. I have used the blank pages of school notebooks to make my own exam revision journals. Do give a thought to the trees that were cut down to produce all this paper!

In a similar vein, schools also sell textbooks and notebooks as a complete package at the beginning of the year. Although convenient, this practice disallows students from passing down their textbooks to siblings.

Waste not want not

It is also irresponsible to discard containers with perfectly good cream, gel, powder, etc., still left in them! Yes, I do squeeze out the very last bit of shampoo, lotion, or toothpaste from their containers. Call me stingy, but such products contain essential resources from nature and cost time and labor to make. You can be sure I will not waste any of it. Additionally, if you accidentally purchase or are gifted makeup or skincare products that don’t suit you, give them to someone who will use them. Do not allow items to deteriorate in a corner of your dresser or cabinet, only to be thrown away months or years later.

The wastage of food is a major dilemma, especially observable at Pakistani weddings. Guests often help themselves to more than they can eat, and thoughtless mothers will heap spoonfuls of rice and meat onto their toddlers’ plates, much of which will be left uneaten. The same occurs at parties and buffets. Please be more mindful when filling up your plate! Additionally, at restaurants, you have the option to take home your leftovers, so don’t hesitate to do so and enjoy the food later.

When it comes to home appliances and gadgets, avoid buying new items if something can be fixed. If you must have a new oven, make sure to donate the old one instead of throwing it out if it’s still usable. Only discard an appliance if it has become unsafe to use. Using your things properly and gently will help them last longer.

Waste not want not

One winter, my electric heater suddenly stopped working. I was planning on purchasing a new one when a lady I met on my morning walk suggested I take the heater to a shop that fixes appliances. I gave it a shot, and my heater was back in good working condition in ten minutes for just 200 rupees! A very small part needed to be replaced, and to think I was about to throw the whole thing away!

In 2018, it was estimated that the world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste every year. Municipal waste consists of everyday items we use and then discard, such as paper, clothing, packaging, bottles, appliances, furniture, and food scraps. Every time you restore or donate something, you save it from being burnt on land or dumped into the ocean.

Illegal ocean dumping still occurs in certain parts of the world. Our garbage harms sea life, and the burning of waste releases dangerous gases into the environment, posing a threat to plants, humans, and animals.

Each of us leaves a legacy behind, so let us be mindful of our actions and strive to properly use and preserve the wonderful resources our planet provides for us.

Waste not want not

A comprehensive approach to waste reduction and sustainable living

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Schools should instill the mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle. Encourage children to use reusable bags, containers, and water bottles to minimize the need for single-use plastics.

Donate and share

Instead of discarding books and stationery, donate them to those in need. Sharing resources can greatly reduce waste.


Initiate a compost bin for food scraps and yard waste. Composting not only reduces waste but also produces nutrient-rich soil for gardening. Schools can encourage students to dispose of their leftover snacks in the compost bin.

Mindful shopping

Purchase only what is necessary and choose products with minimal packaging. Avoid expensive items for short-term use. Consider shopping at thrift stores or online marketplaces for second-hand items.

Repairing and maintaining

Repair broken items instead of replacing them. Regular maintenance of appliances and gadgets can prolong their lifespan. Similarly, do not discard perfectly serviceable furniture, decorations, or backpacks just because something new has caught your eye.

Educate and advocate

Share your knowledge and encourage others to adopt eco-friendly practices. Host workshops or events to raise awareness about waste reduction.

Use water judiciously

When doing your ablutions or washing clothes or dishes, use water sparingly. If possible, reuse water from washing fruits, vegetables, rice, pulses, or meat to water plants.

Convincing family members is a start

It is a fact that most people, like your parents or relatives, don’t care about conserving resources, as they were born and grew up in a time when there were no problems with getting water or dealing with the fallout of plastic use. To do your bit for your planet, you could approach your parents respectfully and explain your concerns about wasting resources. Here are some tips on how to go about it:

Choose the right time

Find a time when your parents are relaxed and not busy. This will ensure they are more likely to listen to your concerns. Begin the conversation by expressing your gratitude for everything your parents do for you and the family.

Express your feelings and concerns

Let them know why you feel it’s important to reduce waste. Explain how it impacts the environment and future generations.

Tell them that you’ve been thinking about the impact of waste on the environment and future generations. Share any specific examples or facts that have influenced your thinking.

Share your motivation

Let them know why this is important to you personally. You might mention your desire to live in a cleaner, healthier world, or your concern for the environment’s future.

Find common ground

Try to find areas where you all agree and can work together towards reducing waste. Focus on shared values, such as saving money or protecting the environment.

Be open to their perspective

Your parents may have their reasons for their current habits. Listen to their perspective and try to find common ground. They may have insights or concerns you hadn’t considered.

Offer solutions

Suggest some practical ways your family could reduce waste, such as using less plastic, composting, or being mindful of water usage.

Lead by example

Show your commitment to reducing waste by implementing these practices in your own life. This can inspire your parents to do the same.

Stay positive

Approach the conversation with a positive attitude. Avoid blaming or criticizing. Instead, focus on the benefits of reducing waste for the whole family and the environment.

Be patient: Change can take time, so be patient if your parents are not immediately on board. Keep the conversation open and continue to lead by example.

Follow up

After your initial conversation, continue to bring up the topic in a respectful way. Share any progress or changes you’ve made as a family.

Remember, the goal is to have an open and constructive dialogue. Your parents may not change their habits overnight, but every small step towards reducing waste counts.