To encourage you to think critically about different kinds of pollution, their consequences, and sustainable waste management
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Environmental problems including all types of pollution require us to gain a deeper understanding of possible causes and consequences, so that we can seek to make individual and collective efforts to improve the situation. This activity aims to address the issues of pollution and waste management.
Exercise 1: Why is it important to focus on pollution?
First, before we dig deeper into the topic of pollution, let’s do a quick quiz about.
What do you think is the most dangerous type of pollution?
All of the above.
“Pollution, also called environmental pollution, the addition of any substance (solid, liquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment at a rate faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form. The major kinds of pollution, usually classified by environment, are air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution. Modern society is also concerned about specific types of pollutants, such as noise pollution, light pollution, and plastic pollution. Pollution of all kinds can have negative effects on the environment and wildlife and often impacts human health and well-being.” (Britannica, n.d, para. 1)
Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), Ozone (O3), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), and Sulphur dioxide (SO2).
The followings are the descriptions of each type of the pollution:
Air pollution: The contamination of the natural air with different pollutants, such as fumes and chemicals. Air pollution can cause a range of harmful effects, including increased rain acidity, a plethora of health conditions and a significant contribution to global warming.
Water pollution: The contamination of our water supply with chemicals, bacteria or plastic waste. Oil leakage is one of the most common forms of water pollution. For more about water pollution, take a look at part 2 of this series.
Land pollution: The contamination of the soil that prevents the growth of natural life. Non-sustainable farming, hazardous wastage and mining all contribute to the pollution of the earth’s soil.
Noise pollution: Loud noises, created by human activity, can disrupt the living standards of those nearby. Excessive noise pollution can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss and can disturb nature in the affected area.
Light pollution: The obtrusive over illumination of a certain area, that interferes with astronomical observation. If, for instance, you can’t see the stars from your local area, chances are you’re affected by light pollution.
Plastic pollution: The accumulation in the environment of synthetic plastic products to the point that they create problems for wildlife and their habitats as well as for human populations.
Radioactive pollution: The most dangerous form of pollution for the earth, radiation can lead to mass extinction of ecosystems, nature and even humans. Radioactive pollution has increased rapidly recently with the rise of nuclear and atomic physics.
(Envirotech Online, para. 4-11).
As teachers, we have the opportunity to make a positive difference by making learners aware of the dangers and causes of pollution.
If you wish, share your list in the following box, along with the name of the city where you live. It can be interesting for other people to see what pollution looks like in different settings, and you can also see answers from other teachers.
Answers from other users
Please check the following website ‘Our world in data’. It provides you with data on plastic pollution. Please check the data and take notes (using pen and paper) on everything that’s relevant to you, your country, or your region in the text field below. The following questions can help and guide you:
What do you think, how has your country of residence contributed to the plastic pollution?
How does your country of residence manage (or recycle) the plastic waste?
What can you do to be more environmentally friendly and contribute less to pollution?
What is pollution in the area where you teach like?
What are the possible factors of why it is the way it is today?
Now please think about promoting awareness on pollution to your students and answer the following question
What can you do to further promote awareness on reducing pollution among your learners?
Begin by estimating (in kilograms or in a different unit of mass) the amount of waste you produce every day, every week, every month, and every year. The waste will include everything from food you didn’t eat, boxes from parcels, or electronics, to also clothes you threw away.
Try to estimate how much waste you normally produce:
0.1 – 1 kg daily, 3 – 30 kg monthly, 36.5 – 365 kg yearly
1.1 – 2 kg daily, 33 – 60 kg monthly, 401.5 – 730 kg yearly
2.1 – 4 kg daily, 63 – 120 kg monthly, 766.5 – 1,460 kg yearly
4.1 – 6 kg daily, 123 – 180 kg monthly, 1.49 – 16.79 tonnes yearly
How much waste you normally produce?
How much of that waste is actually recyclable (in percentage)?
“The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33 percent of that—extremely conservatively—not managed in an environmentally safe manner. Worldwide, waste generated per person per day averages 0.74 kilogram but ranges widely, from 0.11 to 4.54 kilograms. Though they only account for 16 percent of the world’s population, high-income countries generate about 34 percent, or 683 million tonnes, of the world’s waste” (The world bank, 2022, para. 1).
“Waste composition differs across income levels, reflecting varied patterns of consumption. High-income countries generate relatively less food and green waste, at 32 percent of total waste, and generate more dry waste that could be recycled, including plastic, paper, cardboard, metal, and glass, which account for 51 percent of waste. Middle- and low-income countries generate 53 percent and 57 percent food and green waste, respectively, with the fraction of organic waste increasing as economic development levels decrease. In low-income countries, materials that could be recycled account for only 20 percent of the waste stream. Across regions, there is not much variety within waste streams beyond those aligned with income. All regions generate about 50 percent or more organic waste, on average, except for Europe and Central Asia and North America, which generate higher portions of dry waste” (The world bank, 2022, para. 4). Link
Now please read the following article about the negative effects of improper waste management. The article also further provides infographics and videos relevant to the topic. After reading the article, please answer the following:
What does the waste management at your school look like? What suggestions can you make for better waste management at your school? What can you do to promote awareness for reducing pollution and for improving waste management model at your school?
Exercise 3: Sustainable with 5Rs
Thinking about our everyday consumption, an average European person produces about 620kg of waste per person a year. To address this problem, we can consider the 5Rs, namely: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.