Our Dirty Dilemma

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Jorim-Paul Phillips

We use so much and save so little; that is the culture that we have adopted. It is a spendthrift and greedy one and it is taking a toll on our environment. We buy and consume so much, only to throw away even more.

We throw out our wrappers under bushes and stick our bubble gum in places where it does not belong, but to what extent?

Do we even take into consideration where our leftovers go? Do we stop to ponder where the ‘glad-wrap’ and plastic bottles that we’ve only used once end up and what (or who) they will effect? It’s not likely for most.

You really don’t notice how much rubbish there is until you have decided to pick it up yourself. That is a constant reminder to my team, The Envirobassadors, whenever we initiate a clean up.

Our group started off as a few teenagers wanting to do something positive for both the environment and Samoa. Every time we go out and pick up rubbish, we see first-hand how much we are impacting the environment.

It has opened both our eyes and our hearts in regards to how we should treat, how we can impact and how we need preserve Samoa’s natural beauty. Last Saturday we cleaned up a section of the seawall next to the Samoa tourism office.

In less than 100 metres of seawall, we picked up 11 bags worth of plastic containers, aluminium cans, broken bottles and more. And that is just some of the rubbish that we were able to pull from in between the boulders. It was really shocking to see how careless some people can be.

I constantly see people sitting on the seawall having a good time, and that’s great but they end up leaving their “good time” scattered all over the place. It’s both unhealthy and disgusting.

 Even at the Tafa’igata dump you are able to see this ‘spendthrift culture’ that I previously mentioned.  I went there for the first time last Saturday and it was truthfully one of the most shocking things that I’ve ever seen in person.

It was like a mountain of waste, like a wave of useless and unwanted trash.  Millions of pieces of plastic, rubber and metal that I know will never decompose.

Its sad to think that the plastic bottles and aluminium chip bags that I throw away that will live longer than my children’s children. What made it worse is that there were small children spending their free time sifting through the rubbish looking for useful items that we had thrown away.

When it got hot they even made a tent out of rubbish so that they could hide from the sun! That is the legacy that we are leaving for them.

We are teaching our kids that it is “ok” to throw your rubbish around, that it is “ok” to be wasteful and that it’s even “ok” to ignore and overlook the rubbish that’s lying around simply because it is “not theirs”. We need to start changing our attitude and our way of thinking so that we can start evoking change in our own communities.

What’s more is that we need to start leading more sustainable lives. We need to look at how we are living to see if it is beneficial for the progression of society. After all, the Earth is only ours for so long.

We need to look out for future generations that will come after us. Did you know that it takes 100 years for aluminium cans to decompose? Or that plastic and glass will never decompose?

These are the factors that we need to consider when we buy things. We need too start reusing, recycling and reducing our waste instead of being frivolous with what we purchase and consume.

We have created for ourselves an environment that overlooks littering, not only because its bad, but simply because everyone else is doing it. We should not place bad ethics over good morals and values.

You need to be the change that you want to see, because together, we can achieve not only a more sustainable Samoa, but a more beautiful one as well.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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