When I lived in Canada, I recycled out of fear. That’s how strict they are.
When I lived in the UK, there were people who would come to the door to make sure I knew what I was doing. I did not know if they did this because they knew I was Trini, or if I had recycled some bit of plastic wrong, or if this is just something they did to everyone.
Their efforts inspired me and I realised then that there was more to this recycling thing. All of a sudden, recycling became something I needed to do.
The 14 years I lived abroad made visiting home harder and harder. I would leave plastics and paper and metal tins on the counter, because I could not bring myself to throw it into the garbage. Ignorantly, I would leave it there for someone else to deal with. Now that I am back for good I am so happy to see all the recycling options and efforts being made. Recycling is so much easier here than anywhere else in the world because no one is coming to your door to inspect which grade of plastic you put in which bag—at least not yet.
Understanding how one little action can impact our home, our island and our world is the magic behind recycling and making this world better. Now we just need everyone to do their one little part, because if you do not do your part, who will?
A plastic bottle is not garbage; it is a man-made, toxic object that will pollute the Earth. I think it is this change in thought that is the first major step—and to change a point of view, knowledge is needed. There are so many reasons based on fact and truth and desperate necessity to recycle. So many!
There is no such thing as throwing things away. There is no ‘away’. There are landfills, city dumps, the beach, the ocean, the air, a park. There is no ‘away’. So often, I see grown adults toss their garbage out the window of a moving car. It pains me. Who is going to pick up after you?
So here is the grand big thought I want you to consider. You don’t have to agree or believe me; the Earth just needs you to entertain the thought that every time you choose to buy a plastic bottle, a juice box, food that is served in a styrofoam container, etc. etc. etc., every time you toss your discarded container into a bin, you are contributing. It just takes one decision about a bottle to pollute or save the Earth.
To be fair, the onus of this problem lies with businesses that chose to use plastic, tetra paks, styrofoam, etc., to package their products. There are too few establishments that either offer an alternative, such as a discount if you bring your own containers, and/or the facilities to recycle their product’s packaging.
By next year, styrofoam containers will no longer be allowed in this country and one can only hope this will compel all businesses to think forward of a solution that benefits the consumer and the environment. Something tells me, though, that they may instead use their resources to lay blame and argue costs and hardships that the government is causing them.
I believe that if a business wants you to give them money for their products, they should not put you in a position to pollute the Earth. They need to be heavily involved in the way you discard their waste. They need to take responsibility for what they put out there and how it is reused and recycled, and make that level of care transparent so that we can see just what our money is doing. It is 2014. We are beautiful islands and we are better than this.
1. The first step is awareness of what you are choosing to buy.
2. The second step is caring how you discard your used goods.
3. The third step is understanding why your choices matter and that you do make a difference whether or not you are the whole solution. This is so important to embrace.
4. The last step is asking businesses to be accountable for what they want us to buy so that next time all the steps gets easier.
Do the right thing. Be aware. Because we each have an individual power to make a difference.
Reasons to recycle:
- Climate change
- Weather patterns
- Toxic fumes
- Reduce waste
- Economic resource
- Create new jobs
- Save energy
- Preserve the earth
Fact and truth:
- Plastics are found in oceans and on shorelines
- Plastics are also found in parks and on the sides of the road
- Plastics are ingested by marine life
- Plastics lend to pollution levels in soil, water and air
- Acid rain
- Limited landfill space
- Mutated animals as a result of toxic pollution
How to recycle:
- Plastics – rinse and crush or flatten when possible
- Tetra Paks – rinse and crush
- Aluminium cans – rinse and crush
- Cardboard and Newspaper – stack and secure bundles
Some Local Resources (Trinidad and Tobago):
Plastikeep – www.plastikeep.com/
It’s Up To Me nvironmental – firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental Management Authority – www.ema.co.tt
Crisp Clean Event Maintenance – www.facebook.com/crispcleaneventsmaintenance
Papa Bois Conservation – www.facebook.com/PapaBoisConservation
Caroline Mair – International Environmental Lawyer – vimeo.com/78771417
Be a Hummingbird – www.youtube.com/watch?v=-btl654R_pY
Plastic State of Mind – www.youtube.com/watch?v=koETnR0NgLY&feature=share
No More Plastic Bags Please! – www.facebook.com/NoMorePlasticBagsPlease
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”