Furniture is seen dumped in and outside trash bins in Sharjah. Image Credit: Nityashri Sankaran

A few days ago, I was startled to see the amount of broken furniture, foam and plastic bulky materials disposed into a trash bin in Sharjah, creating a sore sight and occupying space (as seen in photographs). This causes a lot of inconvenience and risks the safety of passersby, as some sharp objects are scattered over the pavement.

The volume of trash accumulating on the planet is on the rise, and with the limited resources on Earth, we are endangering our survival with our actions. According to a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), furniture is the least-recycled item in a household. As we are increasingly persuaded to remodel our homes and to replace old furniture, we are also adding more to the landfill. The large amount of wood discarded in landfills contributes substantially to land, water and air pollution, states the EPA. It also costs governments to dispose waste in landfills.

At the same time, the demand for wood all over the world is increasing and large areas of primary forests are being cut down to meet the rising need for timber. Deforestation practices contribute to soil erosion, increasing greenhouse gases and wildlife extinction.

Keeping all this in mind, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle furniture. The Dubai Municipality’s service for safer disposal of bulky goods is worth mentioning. In its tireless efforts to increase environmental awareness and establish efficient waste management systems, Dubai Municipality has introduced bulky waste collection services where you can get your old furniture, refrigerators, washing machines and other bulky goods to be collected from your doorstep. People can reach them on their toll free number, 800900, or contact them via www.dm.gov.ae.

On discussing this issue with a few friends and neighbours, I found that they have personally used the Municipality’s services and have also come across such scenes of discarded furniture. They expressed their concerns to me.

Ajit, a resident of the Abu Shagara area in Sharjah, said: “I have faced the hassle of furniture dumped on pavements in my neighbourhood, which is a hazard, an inconvenience and an eyesore for the pedestrians. It is much safer and convenient to call the municipal authorities to dispose such waste, which they do free of charge.”

Kinshuk Phalke, a friend who lives in Al Qasimia area of Sharjah, said: “A similar problem exists in my neighbourhood, too. Additionally, people dump used furniture in the corridor and staircases of the building. I have seen broken glass scattered on the ground, which could hurt people. It blocks the emergency exits and the situation would be much worse, in case of a fire or similar emergency. When we moved homes, we took the help of the Municipality services to get rid off our old furniture.”

In addition to this, there is plenty of pre-owned furniture available in good condition to meet our needs. We could use covers to keep our existing furniture looking fresh and new, and to make it last longer. Sometimes, it just takes a little shifting around of existing furniture to add a little splash in the design.

The best way to use Earth’s resources more sensibly is to reduce the amount of things we use. Recycling saves materials, reduces the need for landfills and incineration, cuts down pollution and helps make the environment more attractive. It also creates jobs for people at recycling centres.

— The reader is a student based in Sharjah.

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