Garbage, a global problem
Trash, waste or residue are the names we ordinarily give to all the waste materials generated by our daily activities. From our bathrooms and kitchens, to medical centers, supermarkets and industries of all kinds, the massive production of garbage is a symptom of our time, in which plastics and other non-biodegradable and useless materials predominate, as well as of our model of life and consumption of goods and services.
It is estimated that a human being produces on average about a kilogram of garbage a day, which might not seem like much, but in a world of more than 7 billion human beings, it constitutes billions of tons of waste per year. Of this immense amount of garbage, only a fraction (around 16%) is reused and recycled, leaving a gigantic mass of waste without a place that, therefore, ends up in the environment.
What is garbage?
The word “trash” It comes from the Latin verse, translatable as “that which must be swept”. That is why when we talk about garbage, we refer to everything that is useless and therefore deserves to be thrown away or discarded, without distinguishing between the type of objects or substances that compose it. Normally, garbage contains elements of different origin and nature, which we can classify based on two different criteria:
- According to its origin, can we talk about:
- household waste. Generated in people’s homes, either by direct consumption (such as leftover food) or because they are produced by appliances or household appliances (such as batteries, spare parts or damaged items).
- commercial waste. Generated in stores, markets and other places where goods and services are exchanged, such as paper waste from offices, leftover food and drink from bars, etc.
- Industrial waste. Generated by basic, manufacturing or power generation industries. They are generally the most dangerous and difficult to manage waste, such as chemical elements, containers, construction debris or damaged manufactured products.
- Sanitary or medical waste. Generated by hospitals, clinics and health centers, so their reuse must take place according to strict ethical and health protocols, or it is simply impossible. These residues often represent a risk to public health and warrant careful treatment, such as used syringes, used latex gloves, etc.
- space debris. Generated by trips to space or to the upper layers of the atmosphere. These debris, such as ship or satellite fragments, remain in orbit at high speeds and can be a hazard to future missions.
- According to its composition, we can distinguish between:
- organic waste. That have a biological origin and are therefore susceptible to biodegradation, such as food scraps, leaves and branches of trees, hair cut in hairdressers, etc.
- inorganic waste. That they do not have a biological origin but rather an artificial one, and that they do not biodegrade or do so very slowly. They are generally the result of industrial or chemical processes, such as plastics, synthetic fabrics, etc.
- mixed waste. They combine organic and inorganic and are therefore prone to different, often unpredictable chemical reactions, such as batteries, leftover solvents and other substances.
What is done with garbage in the world?
The great drawback of generating so much garbage worldwide is that there is no space to throw it away and forget about it. The vast majority of this waste is piled up in landfills, very unhealthy places with limited capacity, where it is left to decompose freely or is even buried to prevent it from coming into contact with people.
But these spaces are limited, especially in industrialized countries that do not have large extensions of idle territory. In many of these cases, countries pay other countries to receive their garbage. In fact, China was for many decades a receiver of garbage from the West, until in 2018 it decided to prohibit the entry of foreign garbage into its territory and left that role to Malaysia, considered since then the “garbage dump of the world”.
For the rest, the garbage goes into the environment: rivers, lakes and seas are currently flooded with it. There is an island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean, concentrated by ocean currents in its northern zone, whose surface is estimated to be between 710,000 and 17,000,000 square kilometers. Plastics of all kinds and sizes are mostly concentrated in this huge garbage patch, many of which have been eroded down to the size of a grain of rice. This makes them difficult to clean and of immense impact on marine fauna.
- “Garbage” on Wikipedia.
- “Informational text” on Wikipedia.
- “Garbage: environmental consequences and challenges” at the University of Mar del Plata (Argentina).
- “Where does the world’s trash go?” in the weekly newspaper.
- “Global garbage crisis: 3 shocking figures on the role of the United States” on BBC Mundo.
What is an informational text?
A information text or expository is one whose mission is to provide the reader with data, observations and other information in an objective, concrete and formal manner, without giving room for opinions, arguments or stories in its content. This is a very common type of text in the educational world, for example, or in the informative world, such as encyclopedias, textbooks or scientific articles.
Depending on the level of complexity of its language, an informative text can be addressed to any type of person (that is, informative texts) or to a professional sector that handles technical knowledge (that is, specialized texts).