Throwaway lifestyles – the global waste crisis and its impact

Microplastic, single-use bags, electronic waste – the latest issue of GIZ’s akzente magazine puts waste in the spotlight.

The world is drowning in rubbish. But dramatic images of gigantic islands of plastic in our oceans and endless mountains of waste don’t seem to be enough to get people to change their lifestyles. The latest issue of GIZ’s akzente magazine takes an in-depth look at the subject of waste. Cigarette butts alone generate 680 million tonnes of rubbish every year worldwide – and it takes 15 years for them to biodegrade. Even the skies are not safe from human impact. Alongside satellites, up to 900,000 centimetre-large pieces of space junk now orbit the Earth. 

‘The flood of waste is as clear an illustration as possible that we are stretching the ecological limits of Earth to breaking point,’ says renowned environmental journalist Joachim Wille in a feature essay. Wille analyses the current and future situation and explains what is needed to cope with the problem. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry looks at the challenges and limitations of environmental policy in a guest article.

A visit to Accra demonstrates that improvements are possible. For a long time, Agbogbloshie, Accra’s notorious landfill, was considered a horrifying illustration of the waste crisis. Apocalyptic images of burning rubbish circulated were seen by people around the world. A lot has happened since then. A health station, a training workshop and a football pitch ensure that the people there can work under better conditions.

A healthy future is also the focus of the Fit for School hygiene training programme. From its origins in the Philippines, the scheme has now spread to schools in Indonesia, Cambodia and the Lao PDR. akzente visited a nursery in the Lao PDR and learned about good handwashing practices. Further reports focus on peacebuilding work. In Colombia, creative approaches are helping young people to address the country’s violent past, while in Lebanon, compact job training is giving refugees and locals better prospects, and thus preventing conflicts.

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