Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Jamaica can change waste-disposal culture

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Earlier this week, I attended a seminar organised by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET). They were on the road spreading the word on their 'Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica' campaign. I must confess that I had heard about the programme last year when it was launched and applauded it, as I do most initiatives by JET, but then did nothing more.

I thought of the campaign as an offshoot of JET's annual beach clean-up, but Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica is so much more.

Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica is about changing our mindset about the waste we create and taking responsibility for disposing of it properly. We Jamaicans, for the most part, are clean people on an individual level. We are almost obsessive compulsive in ensuring our appearance is neat and our homes are spotless, but, collectively, we seem to have wandered into the twilight zone.

We throw garbage from our car windows into gullies, rivers and other public spaces naively, I assume, thinking that our single item of waste cannot have a significant impact. Even indoors, we leave plastic bottles on ledges inside stores. In the movie theatre, we leave all our waste neatly under our seats, all with the confidence that someone else will clean up after us. Yes, someone in the movie theatres and private places have persons employed to clean, but we must take responsibility for our space and keep it clean wherever we are.


For some reason, we do not see the conflict with this attitude of personal fastidiousness with cleanliness, but public-space 'dutty-ness'. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our waste and teach our children the same message.

We live on an island, a small space. Only we can ensure our children's children have a place to live and breathe. We each need to take the individual attitude of cleanliness we have for ourselves and our homes and transfer that to our communities, parishes, and our island.

Years ago, when wearing a seat belt became law, many shook their heads and said Jamaicans will never abide by that rule. Now we all strap in without a second thought.

I believe we can change our attitude towards waste. Keep the plastic bottle in our bag until we find a trash can. Let us stop, take a minute, and take responsibility for our country. We've all been guilty at one time or another, myself included, and so I pledge to make a change; so can you. Jamaica is dutty - don't make it worse. Make your pledge today.

Howard Hamilton (QC)

Duke Street