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Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable Waste
Solid waste we generate can be classified into two major types:
1. Biodegradable waste
2. Non-biodegradable waste
Activity 3: Take two mud pots or glass jars and fill them up with garden soil. In the first pot, mix wastes such as banana peel, some vegetable peels and a few tree leaves into the soil. In the second pot, mix a piece of plastic carry bag, sweet wrapper and metal foil into the soil.
What happen to the waste materials placed in both pots? Do you notice a difference between first and second pot? Observe the changes over two weeks and discuss with your classmates.
The term ‘Biodegradable’ is used for those things that can be easily decomposed by natural agents like water, oxygen, ultraviolet rays of the sun, micro-organisms, etc.
One can notice that when a dead leaf or a banana peel is thrown outside,
it is acted upon by several micro-organisms like bacteria, fungi or small insects in a time period. Biodegradable waste includes vegetable and fruit peels, leftover food and garden wastes (grass, leaves, weeds and twigs).
Natural elements like oxygen, water, moisture, and heat facilitate the decomposition thereby breaking complex organic forms to simpler units. Decomposed matter eventually mixes or returns back to the soil and thus the soil is once again nourished with various nutrients and minerals.
Those materials which cannot be broken down or decomposed into the soil by micro-organisms and natural agents are labeled as non-biodegradable. These substances consist of plastic materials, metal scraps, aluminum cans and bottles, etc.
These things are practically immune to the natural processes and thus cannot be fed upon or broken down even after thousands of years.
Give some examples for Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable waste.
Discuss with your teacher and friends.
1. Are animal bones biodegradable ?_____________
2. Are all types of clothes biodegradable ?_____________
Rani and her garbage
Rani gets home from school. She is hungry. She eats a banana and a packet of chips. She puts the banana peel and plastic chips packet into the waste bin. In the waste bin, the waste mixes together and the banana peel makes the plastic chips packet dirty. The waste bin starts to smell and Rani’s mother puts the waste outside on the street. The municipality collects the waste from outside Rani’s house and many other houses in a tractor. The tractor drives to a big open dump and leaves all mixed wastes there.
Sometimes, there are fires in the open dump. When waste like Rani’s chips packet burns, unhealthy chemicals pollute the ecosystem. These chemicals are present in the air we breathe. The leftover ash from burning waste pollutes the soil.
When it rains, some of the dangerous chemicals goes into the ground. Some of the rain never reaches the ground as it collects in the plastic garbage at the dump. Little pools of water let mosquitoes to breed and they can spread unwanted diseases like dengue and malaria. Cows and dogs go into the open dump looking for food. As the waste is mixed, many things that are not good to eat such as plastics, smell like food. The animals get confused and eat some plastics by accident. This makes them sick.
Rani is a student like you. She does not want to make animals sick. She does not want to pollute beautiful Town. She does not like mosquitoes and wishes that no one ever gets sick from them. So Rani takes this decision "I plant trees and reduce all type of pollution".
Do you want the same as Rani does? Become a detective. Learn about the 3R's and how you can start to solve these problems.
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