A few months ago, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall had called for there to be higher prosecution rates for persons caught littering, and this is needed to curb the callous and wanton disposal of garbage that is happening in Guyana.
Littering has always been a major issue in Guyana, and as the Minister had said, it has been a predominant source of pollution, a dereliction embedded in the culture of Guyanese; and so the call for the City Constabulary to enforce the law against litterbugs is well received and supported.
To quote the Minister: “Anyone who is found dumping garbage anywhere, they’re going to be prosecuted in the proper way, and there will be no obstacles in that prosecution”.
This brings us to recycling, an avenue that can help with the littering and improper disposal of garbage with which Guyana has been battling for years.
Scientific research has suggested that, due to lifestyle patterns of citizens, the earth is being depleted of its resources 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 will be paying for the consequences as a result of our lifestyle choices.
For years now, calls for citizens here to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner have fallen on deaf ears, and the issue of garbage build-up in and around the city continues to be repeated.
Governments and businesses all over are realising how serious the problem is, and are taking steps towards putting policy mechanisms in place to ensure that the environment is protected from various forms of pollution etc. Recycling, along with reducing consumption, has proven to be an effective way to counter the damage we have been doing to 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 spare 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 yet taken much root here. Only a handful of companies have shown that they are really serious about moving in this direction.
The then PPP Government had made an offer of tax-free concessions to individuals and businesses 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 those companies have actually gone ahead with actual implementation of the project’s 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 this newspaper had said before, as part of efforts to spread the message of recycling, a comprehensive education and public awareness campaign would have 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 preaching about recycling if the necessary infrastructural support system is not present.
In addition to the positive impacts on the environment, recycling brings in a lot of money for many countries. Companies make huge sums from basically utilising the materials that would otherwise have been thrown away.
We believe that there is need for lifestyle changes among our citizens, and it would be very helpful if the schools, religious organisations, and the local Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and Municipalities in every region start the conversation with citizens about recycling. This should be done with the 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.