Our world is running out of natural resources due to economic development. A natural increasing population means more housing, jobs and development and less land.
The climate is also changing due to pollution in the air, soil & waters. This is also because of economic development. Land has been cultivated, trees cut down, and soils over used. This leads to natural degradation which is less efficient for humans. An air quality assessment in Blantyre showed nitrous and sulphur oxide were significantly higher in industrial areas, (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264045672_Air_quality_assessment_of_carbon_monoxide_nitrogen_dioxide_and_sulfur_dioxide_levels_in_Blantyre_Malawi_A_statistical_approach_to_a_stationary_environmental_monitoring_station).
Natural ecosystems and untouched land prevents floods, soil erosion, and grows food. There are many human benefits when working with ecosystems; see the table below for more information.
Nature can regenerate and help us to balance the carbon in the air, but only if we work with nature.
The 21st century has science, technology and knowledge to do it. Sustainable construction methods, and material passports are being developed to understand the energy efficiency and embedded materials. Sustainable agriculture has been passed down through Malawi generations, some call it permaculture. Planting a selection of seeds with nitrogen fixing elements to balance the PH in the soil. Fast growing trees can be useful for many sectors including energy and construction. We understand and can measure the carbon in the atmosphere which we need to balance back with nature based solutions.
Waste is a resource that is currently being dumped in open landfill sites in Malawi. Waste builds up and the minerals, oils and other entities poison the ground and air. Open dumpsites release carbon monoxide into the air. Recycling and reusing waste is crucial to reduce new materials being made using the oil and energy extracted from the ground. Minerals from the ground make your television, mobile phones and every electrical item in the shops.
This leads very nicely to consumerism. If you can buy second hand do. Buying items made from natural materials will mean there is less demand for unnatural products that exert pressure on the world's resources. Understand the areas and community groups that recycle and reuse waste and utilise them. To protect the environment and the future.
ICCMs work aims to implement best practice waste management systems, to collect as much waste as possible for recycling and reuse. This will minimise the market of new products, and reduce the need for new materials to be extracted out of the earth. Waste collecting, sorting, and re-making into products creates employment. Environmentally friendly products are also made such as paper briquettes that are a biomass used to cook, as an alternative to charcoal. This in turn also helps the environment and helps tackle the climate crisis.
The challenges: there are many challenges, especially when poverty is a clear factor as to why rural Malawi regions are struggling and underdeveloped. ICCM have recently completed a feasibility study funded by the Scottish Government that shows there is a strong recognition of the issue of waste. Lack of waste infrastructure and education are defined points that lead to mismanagement of waste. ICCM projects connect with extremely talented and practical people adding value to waste (see waste innovations image below). Our sustainable waste solutions include reducing the volume of waste while support livelihoods to improve people's health and lives.