Footsteps 107 - Waste

Footsteps 107 is packed with practical advice and inspiring stories about dealing with waste in our communities.

Editor's note

Zoe Murton

My eyes stung, my throat was aching and I was struggling to breathe.

Someone was burning an enormous pile of rubbish, dumped by the river behind our house in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The smoke was thick and foul-smelling, and lasted for several days. It was not a pleasant experience! But it is one that so many people face around the world as part of everyday life. 

In this edition, we look at the subject of waste – something that we all produce. But when we throw things away, how much thought do we give to where ‘away’ is? Is our waste being disposed of in a responsible way that protects rather than harms the environment? Are we and our governments doing all we can to recycle? A well-known quote in the recycling community is, ‘Waste is just a resource in the wrong place’. But how can we stop producing so much waste in the first place? 

In this edition we tackle some of these tough questions. We look at how to set up a simple community waste collection service and feature an exciting project in Pakistan that collects and recycles 90 per cent of household waste. We include advice on advocating with decision-makers about waste and hear from two inspiring ‘waste entrepreneurs’ from Haiti. And we share practical tips on organising a litter clean-up event and making charcoal briquettes from woody waste.

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Footsteps articles

‘Environment guards’ collect household waste and transport it to the IRRC in Islamabad. Photo: Hamid Ullah/AHKMT

A green revolution in Pakistan

An exciting project in Pakistan is recycling 90 per cent of a community’s waste.

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God has made us stewards of his creation. Illustration from Petra Röhr-Rouendaal, Where there is no artist (second edition)

Bible study: Taking care of God’s earth

Do we see ourselves as rulers or stewards of God’s earth?

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Children's zone: Enough land for everyone

Children’s zone: Where do we put our waste?

A page of fun activities for children, to download and share (PDF).

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Waste pickers often work in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund

Cleaning up the system: How to advocate on waste

Through advocacy, we can create a better system for reducing and managing our waste.

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Photo: @zerowastehome


News, views and a ‘knotty problem’.

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Five ways to great compost. Illustration from Petra Röhr-Rouendaal, Where there is no artist (second edition)

Five steps to great compost

How to make soil-improving compost from plant and food waste.

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David Junior and his youth group organised a beach clean-up in Maputo, Mozambique. Photo: Anisio Macie/Anglican Youth

How to organise a litter clean-up

Clean-up events are easy to organise and can transform people’s attitudes to litter.

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A woman in the Gambia prepares charcoal briquettes for market. Photo: Mike Webster/WasteAid

How to turn woody waste into charcoal briquettes

Practical instructions for turning your woody waste materials into valuable fuel.

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James Desrosiers and Obed Arris started a business making products from discarded plastic water sachets. Photo: Jack Wakefield/Tearfund

Interview: From trash to treasure

Two young entrepreneurs in Haiti are turning plastic waste into stylish bags.

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There are many different ways to collect waste. Photo: Hazel Thompson/Tearfund

Setting up a community waste collection service

Could you start a waste collection service in your community?

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Plastic waste can cause health problems for animals, such as this buffalo. Photo: Liaqat Gill/Pak Mission Society

The problem with plastic

Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges we face today.

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Book shelves with books


A selection of books, websites and training material about waste.

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The fumes released from burning plastic waste are very harmful for people’s health. Photo: Hazel Thompson/Tearfund

Why talk about waste?

Better waste management can improve public health, provide jobs and protect the environment.

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