By Gerard Achile Idakwoji
This land upon which we stand is sacred. We can’t possibly separate ourselves from the earth, as it’s the platform for all spheres of human activities. In the general sense of it, the earth is our home. Until we can devise a means of safely travelling through space and time to the newly discovered planets speculated to support human life, we must preserve the earth because we have no other habitable place to go. It’s all we have . . . at least for now.
Sometimes though, one wonders if majority of the general populace sees this same land as sacred, especially with the way we act towards it. It is not new news that overtime in this country we have developed environmentally harmful habits, posing on-going and potential problems for ourselves and the environment as well. Cellophane bags, pure water sachets, plastic bottles, used vouchers and other kinds of papers, are slowly becoming part of the soil cover.
It has become second nature to treat the earth as a dustbin, dumping all kinds of waste on it wherever we deem fit. From observation, it’s noticeable that most times we aren’t conscious of such actions. Someone in a bus would gulp down a sachet of pure water and impulsively fling it out the window to join the innumerable others lying and flying around the environment, even though there might be a trash basket in the bus (well, not all buses have trash baskets though, which is one of the causes of the problem: inadequate wastepaper bins in the environment). Same thing goes for some person strolling through an estate, savouring a bottle of plastic coke. When done, the individual throws it into the drainage, possibly faking a “3 point basket-ball shot” in the process.
These are just instances amongst millions more where most of us do the same thing in different ways, with different kinds of waste. To put it in plain terms, this is an utter disregard for the environment, born out of the lack of awareness of the adverse effects of our actions. Somehow, we see how unclean our surroundings are but still we aren’t moved to do something about it, even if it means, curbing the bad habit of indiscriminate waste disposal, as a start. Apart from the aesthetics of the environment, there’s also the health factor to consider but it seems we aren’t paying attention to this too. It’s when it has become a threat to our lives and properties that’s when we begin our customary fire-brigade approach to “saving” unsalvageable situations; dramatizing the proverbial shedding of tears over spilt milk.
Commuters in floods in Lekki, Lagos due to waste dumping in gutters
A good scenario is the case of these recent floods caused by steady rainfall but worsened by garbage-stuffed gutters and drains. Apart from the floods, we still get to deal with mosquito breeding hubs in the form of several pools of stagnant water caused by poor drainage systems or drains turned garbage dumps.
It’s rather unfortunate, that we are yet to be mindful of our attitude towards the environment, being watchful of our activities, knowing some of them would endanger the health of the earth. The Creator has made humans custodians of the earth, to appreciate it, take care of it, protect it and also speak for it when we see it is being threatened, especially by none other than ourselves. This, we are obliged to do. However, we seem to be doing the opposite.
Wherever there’s a problem though, a solution is somewhere close by; it all depends on the will of the stakeholders, which in this case is every one of us. In this vein, the environmentally conscious club of Weseparatewaste named Waste Rescue Club moved to action by the pitiable sanitary condition of Lagos state and Nigeria as a whole, came up with a praise-worthy initiative. Their Waste Rescue Club, together with other conscientious Nigerians, carried out a Green Walkout on Saturday 15th July, 2017, to raise awareness about the need for more efficient waste management and also to pick up litters scattered around the environment. This was done in a bid to encourage a new habit of voluntary environmental sanitation and to discourage the old, destructive habit of pollution.
This is the time to stop the blame and enforce the change. It’s easy to place the blame at the doorsteps of the sectors of government saddled with the responsibility of environmental sanitation and protection, which in all honesty, haven’t performed satisfactorily in this regard at all. Leaving it up to them however, only provides an excuse to carry on with the ugly trend. If we act like some of these environmental agencies and dodge the responsibility, we’d all share the consequences at the end of the day.
It is up to us to take the initiative, to create that beautiful, picture-perfect environment we have always dreamt of. Let’s assume our role as care-takers of the earth, just as the earth has been taking care of our species since time immemorial.
There is no other way out of this mess we have created besides clearing it totally. It starts with me and you. Going green is the way to go.
Watch video from the green walkout here: http://weseparatewaste.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/DSC_0065.mov