November 15, 2010
Health Science Campus
Mr. Peter Ash is an international consultant on integrated waste management and sustainable development. He recently spoke at the Health Sciences campus on global climate change and the role that integrated waste management and zero-waste concept could play to mitigate it.
An organic farmer, master composter, environmental educator, naturalist and community activist in San Diego County, USA, Mr. Peter Ash is committed to the field of agriculture and biodynamic farming. He is a docent for the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and teaches the Master in Composter course for the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.
Reproduced below are some excerpts from his talk.
Can something be done to prevent the adverse effects of Global Climate Change?
Yes. Today the world is changing very rapidly and to keep up with what is going on in the world, we have to make some changes. We have to reconsider a lot of what we do and how we do it.
What we do with our waste today and tomorrow is important. There is also something bigger than that. The way we are living today, with or without the waste, is what has to be dealt with.
How can one mitigate the negative effects of Global Climate Change?
We have to change our lifestyles. Certainly, a good way to start is exactly the way Chancellor Amma has directed us – to clean up the mess.
Man is the only species that creates toxic waste. We have synthesized chemicals; we put them in everything that we make. The waste thrown away breeds pathogens and spreads fatal diseases.
What is integrated waste management?
Instead of throwing away waste such as kitchen waste, green waste (leaves, coconut husks, palm leaves), paper and cardboard boxes, wood and timber, these can be completely composted.
Point source separation of waste is important. We have to separate waste at home. It should be separated into recyclable, reusable, compostable, etc. The integrated waste management approach looks at all the possibilities and sees which one is economically viable and also environmentally safe.
What is zero-waste concept and how do we get there?
We could attain the concept of zero waste through waste hierarchy. Waste hierarchy suggests and challenges us to reduce, to reuse and to recycle. How can we reduce? Buy less. Take your own shopping bags. Do not accept plastic bags. Take only what you need. Do not waste food. Buy things which can be used again. Buy reusable books and clothing.
Separate the compostable wastes such as food waste. Separate paper and plastic bottles that can be recycled. Separate them at home; that is much easier.
Can you explain the concept of composting?
Composting is the recycling of organic matter. Backyard composting is a simple method of taking organic waste and turning it into manure. Vermicomposting makes the best manure.
Nature always seems to have a system that does not pollute. Everything gets recycled in nature through the simple processes of birth, growth, death and decay. Nature makes no waste.
But man, who was a part of nature, got separated from nature.
How do we get in harmony with Mother Nature again?
It’s high time that we think of coming back in harmony with nature. We need to find a way to become sustainable because change is inevitable.
The challenge today is to change everything. Design our systems based on nature. We need to learn to go back to nature because nature sustains life. Integrated waste management and the zero waste concept will help us get there.