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Making our planet a cleaner, better place

Monday, March 23, 2015

I really can’t believe that all of our recycling efforts are about to go down the drain. On March 11, the Plastikeep Recovery Programme (PRP) informed recyclers that its funding agent Green Fund plans to terminate all plastic recycling on March 31, 2015. Just like that it seems like a major recycling effort in T&T will be coming to an end. Plastikeep says that it has diverted “tonnes” of plastic recyclables from our landfill, and I don’t doubt it. 

I cannot believe how many recyclable items pass through my house every week. We take at least two garbage bags filled with plastic from home and at least that much plastic from my library because we recycle there too. This is even more incredible because I do not use plastic bottles for water. There’s no doubt that Plastikeep has done an admirable job in recycling, but it has also contributed extensively to educational programmes in schools and throughout communities. 

Plastikeep participates in environmental clean-ups as well. In short, they help to make our little part of the planet a cleaner and better place. Just witness how many plastic bottles you have seen floating down the road or rushing down a river after a rainstorm. Plastikeep prevented some of that problem through its recycling efforts. As Plastikeep points out, there seems to be nothing in place to fill the void that it will be leaving if it is closed down. 

Besides worrying about the lack of space in landfill sites for plastic and the damage to the environment that discarded plastic causes, I am considering the horrible message this sends to the youth of this country. We can’t have programmes like recycling where we build a mindset and a consciousness for environmental issues and then give a couple of weeks notice to invested parties with the message that all recycling efforts for plastic items are about to come to a screeching halt.

Our children need to know that we are building a better future by trying to save the environment from being buried in plastic. Young people need to develop a sense of commitment—not only to the environment—but to their country in general, and we build that sense of commitment by having community-based projects that bring us together for a worthy cause like recycling. I wonder if the Government ever stops to think how important a recycling programme like the one run by Plastikeep truly is. 

It is not just about taking the initiative to clean up the environment. It is about changing the mindset of people—especially young people now growing up in this country—so that people realise that the future of our nation in every way measurable—politically, socially, economically and environmentally—depends on citizens joining together in a common cause.

We need to develop a sense of identifying an issue, targeting an issue, caring about an issue and working towards rectifying an issue to raise awareness of many different problems in this country as well as instill the notion that we are responsible for the welfare of this country. Too many people have a cynical or lackadaisical attitude towards this country. They believe the Government should take care of them. Then, along comes Plastikeep with the message that we make this country a better place by doing one simple thing: recycling plastic. 

Perseverance and dedication is a problem among many young people in this country. Picking up empty plastic bottles and depositing them in a recycling bin gave people a sense of purpose. To have that feeling of accomplishment taken away is just unthinkable. Recycling provides a worthwhile means of community service, but it is about much more than that. 

It is a symbolic gesture that shows we care about our environment, and we care about our community. We care about our country. It is a symbolic way of showing that we realise that we cannot just sit back and pay lip service to improvement in this country. We have to pitch in and make our own contributions. We have to stand up and be counted.

Recycling provided families with the feeling that they could work together to accomplish an important goal: a cleaner environment. Those of us who recycle are asking the Green Fund, the government—anyone who can help—to reconsider this drastic decision to close down Plastikeep. 
We can’t afford to go backwards. We need to move forward and continue our recycling efforts. That’s the way the world is going, and we don’t want to be left behind in a garbage heap of plastic. Time is running out.


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