For some time now a popular Bahamian mantra has been “clean, green and pristine”. However, after a quick glance of your surroundings, you quickly realize we haven’t been putting much effort into practicing what we preach.
I am a Bahamian male currently studying environmental and sustainability studies here in Canada, and I wish to bring attention to some environmental issues, specifically our waste management.
Like most countries, we face an issue with properly managing our waste in a sustainable manner that protects both the environment and society. While certain barriers hamper us from making immediate impacts, we can begin to take small steps in shifting our attitudes and practices.
Here in Nova Scotia, recycling and sorting are done with great pride and dignity. The people here are heavily invested in protecting their environment as they understand the positive health implications and the importance of preserving the natural environment for future generations. For starters, the urgency to become more sustainable should be driven by tourism and our need to preserve our natural environment, which directly powers our economy.
As for a society, we can start by reducing our consumption and becoming more aware of the amount of single waste we consume needlessly. Consumers can drive change by resisting single-use items and using their own reusable items. Businesses need to encourage the use of reusable items, cutting their operating costs while creating a new social norm.
Without our natural beauty, what do we have to offer in terms of attracting tourists? When we adopt the idea that it’s our responsibility, it makes the task that much easier and enjoyable. Basic sorting of organics, plastics and paper should be mandatory in homes as this allows waste to be better managed at the local dumpsite. Additionally, the sorting of waste will decrease the overall volume collected, as organics are biodegradable and paper can easily be compacted.
The move towards sustainability is a long road. However, it begins with small easy practices. The first obstacle is awareness. When people know the impact of plastic in the environment or the benefit of sorting waste, their attitudes change and a sense of inclusiveness and pride is instilled. We must develop a sense of responsibility in protecting the environment which affords us our way of life while powering our economy.
– Jamie Turnquest