Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 26th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt April 26 - 2017
Our environment: You and me
Imagine this: Everyday you walk one flight of stairs to
your work cafeteria, to buy lunch or snacks. You auto-
matically expect to get a styrofoam container with your
lunch and expect a plastic bag. You have your lunch and
dump the bag and styrofoam container 30 minutes later.
Those items are carted off to the landfill site where it
will remain for hundreds of years to come, but first will
make it's way back into our food system bringing harm-
ful element to our bodies.
Every day, we as a people purchase food, drink bottled
water, and purchase appliances and other products secure-
ly packaged in polystyrene (better known as Styrofoam),
plastic, and other similar materials, which are transported
in plastic bags. As handy as these materials are in our
everyday lives, they are also harmful to our environment
and our bodies. They are non-biodegradable; because they
are not organic material, they take centuries to break down
naturally, and result in pollution that has an adverse impact
on our environment, harming animals, marine life, and
food resources, and overflowing our landfills worldwide.
The long term effect of pollution from these materials are
both unthinkable and undesirable and eventually makes its
way back into our food supply bringing carcinogens into
On April 6, the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and
the Environment hosted a stakeholders meeting, themed
"Green Alternatives for Food Packaging" at its Shaw Park
headquarters. Here, several companies, including "Hello
Green", and Siel Environmental promoted "vegware"; "green"
packaging options made from bagasse, palm leaves, wood
pulp and other biodegradable materials. Caterers, and other
suppliers had the opportunity to browse various displays
of these products, ask questions and provide feedback.
They also viewed a presentation from the Department of
Environment on the need for the private sector, and the
general public, to take a bigger role in protecting Tobago's
This was the second step of the Tobago House of Assem-
bly's (THA) move to phase out Styrofoam products from
use on the island, and other forums like this will be held
across the island to create further awareness and instigate
action to eliminate the waste that continues to accumulate
on our streets, unoccupied property lots, beaches, and even
more unfortunately, the ocean. The process began at the
Assembly Chamber on March 28, with a motion to phase
out Styrofoam, and promote better waste management and
environmental preservation. Beyond the environment, it
can affect other industries such as food production and
tourism, and the clean-up is costly.
But it is more than just policy and the authorities. It's
about our actions as individuals and the choices we make.
Paper or plastic? is not a simple question, since often our
response is to take the plastic bag.
There are a number of organisations nationally that are
also leading the charge against pollution through recycling,
awareness and other initiatives. The iCARE project has
been providing collections bins throughout Trinidad, with
convenient locations across the island to facilitate recycling.
A few years ago, SWMCOL (the Solid Waste Management
Company Limited) introduced its "Get Into Green" cam-
paign, including a recycling depot on the outskirts of Port
of Spain, which, according to the company, allows "eco-con-
scious citizens" to drop off their sort recyclables free of
Apart from their environmental concern, these initiatives
have one major thing in common: they all require the input
of the public to be effective. Our indifference in disposing
of these materials, littering and lack of initiative to reduce
usage and reuse these materials, contributes to the prop-
agation of pollution. It's a worldwide problem. In fact, the
U.S. alone used roughly $50 billion plastic water bottles
last year---1,500 bottles per second---of which only 23
percent were recycled. This means a significant number of
these bottles can end up in landfills, or worse. But just as
the public has contributed to this problem, we can also be
Think about your environmental footprint, and ask:
"what can I do to reduce my impact on the environment?"
The first step, if you don't know the answer to that ques-
tion, is to get information. Do your research, and find out
how you can be part of change. It may mean something
as simple as substituting filtered tap water for bottled
water; taking your own, environmentally friendly shopping
bags to the supermarket; or even reusing materials that
would otherwise end up in the landfill. And of course,
refraining from littering, which compounds the problem,
and contributes to flooding and other problems. Being
conscious of how you dispose of white waste can also make
a big difference to the environment; the Division of Health,
Wellness and Family Development periodically provides a
service to all households to safely and properly dispose of
their white waste.
There's an old proverb, attributed to the Native Amer-
icans of the U.S.: "We do not inherit the land from our
ancestors, we borrow it from our children". Simply put, it
suggests our environment isn't just for us, but for the
generations to come. That's more than enough reason to
keep Tobago "Clean, Green, Safe and Serene".
This environmental issue is really about you and me and
the choices we make all day everyday.
If you would like to comment or contribute something, we'd love to hear from you.
Please send us an e-mail at email@example.com
Attendees visit the Division of Health,
Wellness and Family Development's
information booth during Friday's (April 21)
Child Abuse Symposium at the Gulf City
Mall, hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago
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