We’ve said this before and we will say it again here and now. When it comes to rubbish and waste along our shores, the numbers are mind blowing.
We are referring to the alarming statistics about waste collected along the coastline and the negligent attitudes, which have contributed to the demise of our environment.
This rubbish didn’t just drop from the sky. It came from you and me, the negligent human being who has developed quite a bad habit of littering anywhere and everywhere over the years.
It includes the silly habit of throwing trash from moving vehicles, dumping anything and everything on the seawall after that night out and all the bad behaviour we have seen. The worry is that these bad behaviours have been passed from generation to generation so they have become so common.
It’s also worth remembering that it wasn’t that long ago during the International Coastal Cleanup that for a distance of about 1.5km of beach covered, some 2177.5kgs of trash was collected. There were 838 plastic bags, 465 food wrappers, 144 plastic forks, knives and spoons, 33 disposable nappies, 1008 plastic and styrofoam food packaging, 39 shoes, 285 plastic drink bottles and 432 aluminum cans and more.
Let me say this again, the astounding amount of trash we’ve referred to in this piece was collected from just 1.5km covered. Imagine the extent of the problem when we go through village by village? Try covering the entire length of Beach Road? It would be quite sad.
But why are we talking about rubbish again so soon?
Well today, volunteers across Upolu, including Miss Samoa, Pricilla Olano, are leading the effort for Samoa’s National Clean-up Day. Hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P), the activity is Samoa’s contribution to improve regional hazardous waste management across the Pacific.
With the National Environment Week starting on Monday, Malaki Iakopo, A.C.E.O of Water Resources Division M.N.R.E, said today’s activity could not have arrived at a better time.
“The clean-up event is aimed at engaging government and communities and encouraging all of us to take action and responsibility for our environment,” he said. “In addition, the rubbish collected during the event will be counted and recorded and used to inform both the public and government.”
PacWaste Project Officer, Elizabeth Vanderburg, said today’s activity is also a great way to promote the importance of a cleaner and safer Samoa.
“If we want to see entrenched hazardous waste management practices, an important starting point is to change our mindsets when we deal with any kind of waste – whether it is green waste in our gardens, household waste in our rubbish bins and debris in our rivers and oceans.”
We couldn’t agree more with Ms. Vanderburg. Today is certainly a great day to start dealing with some of those mindsets when it comes to waste.
The fact is that if we keep producing waste at the rate we’ve been going for the past years, the future is worrying. We need to think about what we can all do to address the issue in our homes, villages and communities.
As we’ve said before, at the end of the day, it comes down to the individual’s actions. They matter. So what are the simple practical steps you and I can take?
Start by practicing the message of the “5Rs.” What are these Rs?
1) REFUSE: Say no! Say no to plastic straws when ordering a drink. Say no to the plastic bag at the shop counter
2) REDUCE: Buy items with less packaging. If you have an option to buy a niu or a Poweraid, buy the niu (you are supporting local economy and reducing the amount of waste you produce)! But remember to say no to the straw!
3) REUSE: Find new uses for the packaging and items that you do have. e.g. turn an empty jam jar into a storage system for your pantry.
4) RECYCLE: Samoa does have a recycling programme. We should all be recycling! (approx. 20% of items found at the beach cleanup were recyclable in Samoa (aluminium cans, scrap metal, and some plastics)
5) RETURN: Many of the glass beverage bottles in Samoa can be returned so that you and me can make some money.
It is also worthy to note that Savai’i and Upolu have the best waste collection coverage in the Pacific. Based on this, it means we have no excuse for littering unnecessarily. All you need to do is compile your rubbish, let the collectors come around and do their job. It is that simple.
So let’s all do our part to keep Samoa clean and beautiful.
We all have a role to play.
This country is our home entrusted to us, it is our responsibility to keep it clean and beautiful.
Have a great weekend Samoa, God bless!