The problem: Armenia does not have a proper waste management system. Waste is stored in hundreds of dumps, none of which are constructed in a sanitary and environmentally safe fashion. Improper waste management and littering is a dangerous problem in Armenia and many people are generally unaware of the environmental health hazards associated with poor waste management. Littering, especially of plastic items, presents an extremely dangerous situation not only for the environment but also for human health and the future of Armenia.
Did you know? Most plastics never fully decompose, they just break apart into lots of tiny, toxic pieces and stays in the environment forever. In the lifespan of a plastic item, it can choke wildlife, pollute the soil and water, and become a part of the food chain.
Be a conscious consumer and become a part of the solution : The most important immediate action we all can take is to: reduce our consumption, especially of plastics. Education about plastics is lacking in Armenia and it can be difficult to escape from plastic waste but each of us can make small changes to make a big impact.
Tips for being a conscious consumer:
– Use a reusable bag. This is a new concept in Armenia and grocery stores still haven’t caught on. Spread the word by refusing to accept plastic bags from cashiers and store owners. Tell them you don’t want a plastic bag and don’t be shy to tell them why!
– Look for alternatives. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard as well as plastic packaging.
– Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
– Avoid buying products in plastic packaging. Be aware that even cans and tetra paks are lined with plastic, and styrofoam is a petroleum-based plastic.
– Don’t use plasticware (straws, forks, cups, spoons, knives, etc.)
– Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying drinks in plastic bottles.
– When disposing of waste, crush all items to make them as compact as possible so they take up less space in the dump.
– Educate yourself! Even in Armenia, there are alternatives and ways to reduce your impact. Do your research and commit to being a part of the solution.
AEN has a campaign on GlobalGiving to produce and disseminate Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and social advertisements to educate Armenians about the harms of plastics. The PSA's produced thus far can be viewed here. To contribute to AEN’s GlobalGiving campaign to help produce additional PSAs, click here.