Indonesia is estimated to produce 64 million tons of waste every year with organic waste, and plastic contributes to 60% and 15%, respectively; It even reaches 67.8 million ton in 2020, said Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya on 9th June 2020 (Azzahra, 2020). There is a need to do waste segregation along with better infrastructures. The foremost step to reduce the amount of trash produced is to manage the waste from the source, from every one of us at home. The provision or the improvement of physical facilities is sure necessary, but if it is not accompanied by a behavior change to sorting on our waste, it will be futile.
The National Government has shown a political willingness through Presidential Decree No. 97/2017 and a strategy document of ‘Radically Reducing Plastic Pollution in Indonesia: A Multi-Stakeholder Action Plan‘ where the government wants to achieve 30% reduction of total waste and 70% reduction of marine plastic leakage in 2025 (World Economic Forum, 2020). The action was followed by various cities and provinces where they created local regulations to reduce or ban a completely plastic bag, such as in Bali started in December 2018 and in Jakarta started in July 2020 (Setiawan & Fithrah, 2018). The impact of lowering the plastic campaign has started to show. It can be seen from the reduction of 1 percent of plastic waste from 2016 to 2018 in Indonesia (CNN Indonesia, 2019). It might seem a small number, but it actually represented 630,000 tons of waste. Therefore, while we wait for national/local governments to build the necessary facilities, we also should learn to sort our waste so that we can work hand-in-hand. If we as individuals start to reduce the domestic waste, we may see a significant reduction of waste that ends up polluting the environment.
How to manage our household waste
The most important thing in reducing waste generation in our household is by trying a small step at one time. The following points are some solutions we can try to do in respect to reduce our daily waste generation. We can try to start trying the steps and then inspire other people to do so.
Firstly, the best way to reduce waste is still to prevent using it in the first place. We can start by making food in moderation to avoid wasting food. We can also begin to use less plastic in our home, including in everyday lives. We can:
- Use banana leaf as a meat or vegetable wrap for storing them in your refrigerator
- Buy groceries from the zero-waste bulk store. We can use our jars to wrap the groceries such as foods (e.g. rice, nuts and pasta) and even personal hygiene (e.g. shampoo and body soap)
- Use lunchbox to pack our meal or bring it when we want to buy food outside
- Bring our water using a tumbler or even better, bring also a mug/thermos mug if we like to take away coffee.
- Bring our reusable bag if we buy something from a supermarket or traditional market.
- Use aluminum straw as a substitute for a plastic straw, or just drink directly from the glass
If we happen to use plastic because we forget to bring the containers or other cases, try to reuse those plastics next time to carry goods or use it as a trash bag at home.
Secondly, the next step is segregating our waste. As a start, we can start to divide it into three categories; organic waste (food leftover), inorganic waste (paper, plastics, cardboard), and toxic/hazardous waste (batteries, medicines, oils, cable and paint). At home, provide three bins with a label on it to avoid mixing up the waste. You can try to label your trash bins by following the following figure. It is easy to separate the waste as long as we put a bit of effort into it. Sure sometimes, we often confuse how to throw the waste from rice boxes because it contains both inorganic waste (paper and plastic) and organic waste (leftover). In that case, we can throw out first the food leftover into the organic waste bin while the paper, tissue and plastic into another container.
After that, we can give the inorganic waste to waste pickers or garbage collectors. They usually will sell the waste to be recycled. If we cannot find them, you can send the waste to the temporary landfills nearby your home directly or through garbage man. The most important thing does not burn the waste because it creates smoke and ash that contains some toxic by-products, including sulfur dioxide, trace amounts of mercury, VOC and chloride (Christian et al. 2013), which are easily inhaled and can seep into soil and groundwater.
Thirdly, we can start to make compost from organic waste. Here is an easy way to make compost based on several field experiences (Rhoades, 2020; Mommies Daily, 2019; Calisti et al. 2020):
- Place cardboard on top of the plastic bucket. This cardboard will function as warmers during the composting process
- Pour the soil/organic compost as a starter
- Put the green organic waste (vegetables and other food leftovers) as a carbon source for microbes that have been cut into small pieces into the bucket
- Put also the brown organic waste (wood chunks, leaves, etc.) as a nitrogen source for microbes
- Create a layer of brown and organic waste with a composition of one green layer (act as nitrogen source) for every 2-4 of brown layer (act as carbon source). It will be a trial and error to put the right mixture but basically the C:N ratio should be between 25:1 to 30:1.
- Stir everything until blended
- Perform these steps until the bucket is full
- Cover the bucket using cardboard to allow aeration
- Please put it in a place that is not exposed to water and hot sun
- Open the cardboard every three days and stir the contents to keep greens and browns in balance
- It should take 2-4 weeks for compost to be made
There are perceptions that a compost pile smells bad. However, a good compost pile should not smell bad; it should smell like dirt. The bad smell comes from the C:N ratio less than 20:1 due to the formation of volatile nitrogen compounds. If it happens, it may be caused by too little aeration (mixed the organic waste), too much moisture (add more brown materials), too low humidity (add rice water), or too low microbe activity which can be seen if the potential compost is not heating up (add more green materials) (Calisti et al. 2020)
Those three steps are very crucial to reduce domestic waste. Why is it important to reduce waste? It will be very helpful in reducing waste that ends up in river and sea ecosystems. The waste can kill the aquatic animal and can cause harm to us.
- The aquatic animals think plastic or other waste, such as cigarettes, etc., are food and eat it cause death because the plastic doesn’t break down in the intestines.
- The rubbish will trap the body or pierce body parts in the sea, causing death.
- Fish eat very small plastic waste (microplastic) until we finally eat the fish and eat the plastic in it, which has the potential to cause cancer.
Therefore, we need to take care of our domestic waste, starting today, starting with ourselves.
This article was created as part of public education about plastic waste, river ecosystems and their management, as well as marine ecosystems and management by the Greeneration Foundation. Currently Greeneration Foundation together with Waste4change and Riveryrecycle is implementing a program in Citarum River, namely Citarum Repair Program to help solve the problem of waste in the Citarum River. For more information, please check at Citarum Repair or contact Aditya by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.