Country Before Self, Please!

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It’s the start of a brand new work week albeit an abbreviated one for some with 2 public holidays in between. That means more trips to the popular liming spots. And for many who couldn’t care less about the environment, more garbage left behind at the rivers, beaches and anywhere else we pitched tent. It never ceases to amaze us how it doesn’t seem to bother the nasty few who leave garbage of all sorts behind when the lime is done. Or those who just drop refuse on the street because it was too difficult to find a dustbin. Then when the floods come, some of these same individuals are the ones that are affected most. It’s a vicious cycle but it’s one of the realities of life here in sweet T&T.

There’s no question about the fact that the rainy season is here. We’ve all been seeing subtle signs of it over the past week or so. And in another month from now, when the rains intensify, we’ll have to  deal with flooding once again. While there has been some effort at clearing water courses of silt and debris over the last few months, we are asking again, what is being done about our reckless use and disposal of plastics? Where are the harsh penalties for littering? Just last week you may have read that 85 truckloads of garbage were removed from water courses in the Port of Spain area alone. And it’s almost certain that if that exercise were conducted again this week we might be able to fill the same number of trucks again. Could you now imagine what’s left in the drains and rivers across the rest of the country? It’s a scary thought but who knows, you may get to see it in your living rooms when floods hit your community soon.

We’ve also been hearing time and time again about legislation that’s coming to regulate the use of plastics and polystyrene in manufacturing and incentives for stimulating a recycling program. We’ve heard empty talk since the 1980’s that a Beverage Container Bill was coming. Maybe it’s with the messiah or maybe there is no political will to produce it. We’ll let you be the judge of that. Up to now, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association is saying they have not been consulted on any such legislation. Has any other stakeholder been in talks with the government about curbing the use of single-use plastic products? Where are the incentives for switching to eco-friendly food and beverage containers?

While environmental consciousness and preservation remains our ultimate responsibility, the legislators are also highly accountable for how we treat with pollutants and refuse. It’s vividly clear that there are many amongst us who couldn’t care less about their surroundings or our country’s wellbeing and that’s where the law comes into play. It’s time for drastic action. In the same way that the Police Commissioner is trying clamp down on criminal activity and speeding so too must our government move decisively to bring legislation to curb the use of plastics and the disregard for the environment. Increasing pensions for oneself cannot be more important than the country itself.