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Scant regard for the environment
I can only hold my breath and hope that the Beverage Container Bill allegedly coming to parliament will be the long awaited oasis in a desert of environmental nonchalance. Junior Minister in the Environment and Water Resources Ministry, Ramona Ramdial, admits that plastic bottles are about 50 per cent to blame for the Diego Martin flooding. I can’t help but think that this may be a fairly accurate assumption.
We Trinis tend to be oblivious to the impact on our immediate future through our blatant disregard for our environment. We play mas and participate in marathons around the Savannah where we often drink copious amounts of water and sports drinks, and because of the lack of facilities, we throw the bottles carelessly onto the ground.
We litter our beaches with left-over styrofoam plates, plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans and shrug it off. We don’t think twice about throwing garbage out of our windows while we are driving. I am not sure if it registers to participants that the same carelessly discarded garbage often contributes to the obstruction of drainage causing flooding and damage.
Where is our pride? We get excited when we win a gold medal at the Olympics, or Nicki Minaj films her music video in Trinidad and gloat with superficial pride that we are Trinis, while in the same instance throwing our garbage out of our car windows or on the sides of the road. Pride should be something that is shown in how we handle our historical buildings and our surroundings.
Half of the problem is the mentality of the people, the other half is our government. Where are the laws? Where are the facilities? Our government enjoys throwing around money bringing celebrities to “motivate the youths against crime”, erecting ostentatious buildings in an effort to display that we are on the fast track to “first world industrialisation”, yet the investment in our beautiful landscape is forsaken.
I can personally say that it is difficult to de-programme individuals who are raised not to care about the environment. I try to instill a sense of environmental appreciation in people I know and I often feel that my pleas are falling on deaf ears. I use reusable grocery bags, religiously wash, flatten and discard my garbage appropriately to the specified recycling facilities and see how difficult it is for others to want to follow suit.
I can’t help but reflect on the system of garbage collection in foreign countries where garbage is separated by glass, plastic, paper, aluminium and a schedule set for allocated pick-up dates. Improperly discarded garbage results in fines. Bottle retainer bills are passed, where a deposit is added or included when purchasing plastic, glass or aluminium and is returned to the buyer once the empty bottles are returned.
Disaster can be prevented. We can do something. The government has the finances to start the implementation of such facilities. How many homes and cars have to be flooded and damaged before we realise that? How many lives must be lost before our government and our citizens start to take this seriously?
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