Intense rainfall, floods, careless garbage disposal practices

Over the past two weeks, Guyanese in all ten administrative regions have been battling intense rainfall coupled with high tides, which have been causing major flooding in their communities. The livelihoods of many cattle, livestock and cash crop farmers have been threatened, and many have had to deal with tremendous losses. In many flooded areas along Guyana’s coast, improper disposal of garbage is the source of clogged drains and canals.
Like had obtained in the 2005 floods, our vulnerability has been exposed, causing us to wake up to the reality that we must treat the environment differently.
There is, no doubt, need for more effective public education campaigns on climate change, and to highlight the effects of poor environmental practices. That said, there is also need for more green projects to be implemented at the local level, to encourage communities to work towards achieving a cleaner and healthier environment.
Another issue that must come to the fore is recycling. As this newspaper has said over and over again, scientific research has suggested that, due to lifestyle patterns of citizens, the earth’s natural resources are being depleted too quickly to sustain a healthy balance. The earth’s natural resources are being consumed at a rate that reinforces the idea that we are living for today, and future generations would be paying for the consequences that result from our lifestyle choices.
For years now, calls on local citizens to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner have fallen on deaf ears, and the build-up of garbage in and around the city continues to be repeated.
Governments and businesses all over the world are realising how serious the problem is, and are taking steps towards putting policy mechanisms in place to ensure the environment is protected from various forms of pollution. Recycling, along with reducing consumption, has proven to be an effective way to counter the damage we have been inflicting on the earth for centuries.
A major part of recycling relates to how best we can recycle much of what we use, instead of turning it into unusable waste. For the sake of emphasis, recycling is important as a means of reducing poisonous emissions into the atmosphere, and also to postpone depletion of our natural resources.
Guyana has indeed taken some time to get “on board”, while many companies and individuals in other parts of the world are improving their recycling habits by coming up with more ways to reduce and reuse what they use. In essence, while there has been much talk about the need to recycle certain products to save our environment from further damage, in a practical sense, the concept has not as yet taken much root here. Only a handful of companies have shown that they are really serious about moving in this direction. For example, in a bid to support efforts to sustain and maintain a clean and healthy environment through the provision of proper disposal mechanisms and technology, one local company had launched a line of biodegradable products, called Eco Pak. The Eco Pak products consist of biodegradable table wares, including bowls, boxes and cups, which are all environmentally-friendly products because of the materials used and the process utilised to manufacture them.
The PPP Government had, in the past, made an offer of tax-free concessions to individuals and businesses that are willing to invest and set up recycling plants for plastics and Styrofoam. This was viewed as a good start, and from all indications, a few companies had expressed an interest in taking up the offer. However, we are not certain how far ahead those companies have gone with actual implementation of the project ideas.
That being said, if we are serious about maintaining a healthy and clean environment, consumers must demand that businesses engage in practices that are more eco-friendly. For example, consumers must be encouraged to purchase from companies that manufacture more eco-friendly products.
As part of efforts to spread the message of recycling, a comprehensive education and public awareness campaign would need to be carried out, using every available means. Following this, the authorities should explore setting up recycling centres across the country, since it makes no sense to preach about recycling if the necessary infrastructural support system is not present.
In addition to its positive impacts on the environment, recycling brings in a lot of money for many countries. Companies make huge sums from basically utilising materials that would otherwise have been thrown away.
As this publication had previously said, we believe there is need for lifestyle changes among our citizens, and it would be very helpful if the schools, religious organisations, and local Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and municipalities in every region start the conversation with citizens about recycling. This should be done with direct involvement of the decision-makers.
Certainly, everyone prefers products that are manufactured in an eco-friendly manner, and wants a better, cleaner, and healthier environment.