Editorial: Garbage again!
Yet another clean-up campaign has been launched in the nation's capital. Over many years, various campaigns and initiatives have been started to try to address our garbage problems. But it seems like we are always starting from level one in this effort to grow a culture of caring for the environment by changing the ways in which we dispose of, and treat, waste. There is every indication that the fight for a healthy environment needs greater buy-in from the public.
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is taking the lead role in this latest campaign which has been dubbed 'Weh Garbage a Go'. Humour and music have always been employed to help carry this message. We recall the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce's 'Clean as a Whistle' campaign which caught the imagination of many Jamaicans and was adjudged to be successful. Later campaigns included 'Spruce up Jamaica', 'My MoBay Campaign', and, more lately 'Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica'.
NO REAL DETERRENT
Sadly, the dumping of trash in the streets and our beaches continues unabated with the anti-litter law providing no real deterrent to delinquents. So the exhortations about reducing, reusing, recycling and making compost of garbage have sadly gone unheeded, for the most part.
The clear message we believe everyone needs to hear is that lurking among the filth and debris in our communities are a number of deadly diseases, including mosquito-borne ones such as chikungunya, chik-V and dengue. Unattended garbage attracts flies, rodents and other creatures that spread disease.
Since entire communities are at risk of exposure to hazardous waste and the effects of pollutants from improperly disposed garbage, Jamaicans ought to participate in this campaign not just for today, but as part of their daily routine.
There is a strong role for our local influencers to play in educating and engaging community members about the environment. We point to the churches, schools, youth groups and non-governmental organisations among the groups that can help to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste at home, in the workplace, and in schools so that less strain is placed on our fragile resources.
Electronics distributors, for example, also have a huge role to play in helping the consumer dispose of used electronics that often contain toxins such as lead and mercury. Farmers, too, should be better educated on how to dispose of pesticides. These toxins, when dumped indiscriminately, can do harm to our air and water supply.
Today's climate crisis will likely have a great impact on generations not yet born. This is why we are urging the new administration of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to make the environment a priority, with particular emphasis on waste-management and disposal sites. The Government should lead the charge in setting targets and urging specific actions in an effort to achieve national environmental goals from reducing greenhouse gases to recycling.
The experts regard recycling as the first step in efficient solid-waste management therefore the solid waste management authority should devise a plan and educate householders on how they should separate their garbage.
We note that JET will be using social media in its latest campaign. Hopefully, individuals will share their green practices so that others may emulate their good examples.