Let’s have a quick look at some of our public manners as it relates to refuse disposal and the environment.
It is a common sight to see adults litter their environment without any guilt or concern for the common space they share with others. You may have seen cases where a parent/adult hands a kid some trash and tells the kid to go throw it in the gutter or just outside the house. Or an adult takes trash from the hand of a child and throws it right there, on the ground, where they are.
It is such an eye-sore that an adult gives or sends a child to go and throw used water sachet or any other trash into a gutter or drainage nearby. It is a sign and an epitome of a generation whose discipline and sense of respect for common space has broken down. And right there, the lack of responsibility and indiscipline is being passed down to another generation! That child will hardly learn the importance of a trash bin especially at those moments when it is more convenient to just get rid of the trash inappropriately rather than wait to put it in a trash bin.
Please Make Use of a Dustbin!
It is also an ugly sight to see papers and trash fly out of a beautiful moving car. One may think, the occupants are wise enough to appreciate a nice car, but not responsible enough to care for their environment. Or you see a beautiful pavement with lovely flowers and right in the middle of it is an empty can or empty plastic bottle. You even wonder, “Did this environment not took too good for this person to drop such a trash?” Honestly, I find it weird!
When you throw or drop used paper, plastic bags, bottles, cartons and cans out of the window of a vehicle or right on the floor, what exactly are you thinking? Perhaps one of the following thoughts: 1) that someone you employed will pick and clean up after you; 2) that it is the job of the government cleaners to pick and clean after you; 3) that if you do not litter the public space then government cleaners would have no work to do; 4) that it is not your business what happens to whatever you throw away in the wrong place; and 5) worse of all, you give no thought to your action. Don’t’ think! Just throw it there. Ok, I thought if we must live life well, then it is worth reflecting upon.
Use of trash bin:
It takes some discipline to make use of a trash bin. Used papers, sweet or chewing gum wraps, cans, bottles, banana peels, food remains and other items for disposal can be stored/kept for some time and only disposed of at appropriate places and in designated containers. The word “designated” is used here because there are many refuse dump sites that are created locally and by communities that they become a menace to public health and safety. Each time we add refuse to such places, we contribute to the problems besetting public health.
“‘Solid waste’ are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society.
This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents
not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources,
but also a serious economic and public health problem.” – Jimmy Carter
On the other hand, we have a government who is doing its bit to keep the environment tidy through its environmental agencies and departments; however, it could do much more. The populace could be better educated on how to dispose simple refuse in public places. For example, huge pedestrian bridges are built across several lanes of roads, yet not a single dust bin or trash disposal is found along these huge and long foot paths.
How different would it be if well-secured dustbins were provided along these pedestrian bridges, with reminders to use the trash bins? This would enlighten the people on the need to throw refuse into the public trash or recycle bins. Supposing 500 people pass daily, and 200 of them needed to dispose simple refuse, I guess at least more than half of these people would not leave the trash bin and throw refuse on the ground. At least some of them would do the right thing, and then a certain culture is developed.
One way of developing good environmental practices among citizens is for relevant government Ministries to develop radio jingles promoting good environmental practices. When such jingles are heard continuously on radio and television it would help to gradually correct some environmental practices over time.
On the subject of the environment, these were the words of Dr Raphael Ofuka during an informal conversation with LinCornellah’s blog: “When God created the world, man was the last creature. God gave man power and authority to control every creature on earth. But man has used that authority to destroy other creatures.”
Dr Ofuka is the Secretary of the Cross River State Environmental and Carbon Emission board. The board is one among several boards that were constituted by Prof Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, in March 2016. Such a board had never existed in Cross River State. Surely, the establishment of that board indicates that Cross River State is making efforts at environmentally-responsible political decisions to combat climate change.
Like Dr Ofuka reiterated in that conversation, human activities have grossly distorted our natural environment by adding more carbon-dioxide into it, without removing any. Practices such as deforestation, fossil fuel emission and poor waste disposal heat up the environment, resulting in global warming. However, individual actions of you and I, would help in redressing this anomaly. This requires behaviour change.
We can each practice the 3Rs of the environment – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This will help us exhibit environmentally-responsible customer behaviours.
Reduce: This requires that in the first place you limit the number of purchases you make of an item. Less material acquired, less required for disposal.
Reuse: Find ways to reuse items in your possession instead of replacing them with new ones. This requires that one learns to improvise with just a little creativity, and it saves you some money.
Recycle: There are companies or groups that use items as raw materials to make new products. Link up with such group/institutions and support the great practice of recycling.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
— New England proverb
(To be continued – Part 3)
- Linda and Cornelius Ellah