Do we as Jamaicans understand what we are doing to our beloved island?

First of all, I want to commend everyone who participated in Labour Day projects across the island - Jamaica is a better place for it. However, if it is one thing that this day opened up my eyes to is the fact that as a nation we need to do better when it comes to proper garbage disposal. If you saw the pictures posted by Brandon McKoy, then you understand clearly what I am talking about. 25 large garbage bags filled with plastic bottles were collected from one spot in Kingston Harbour alone, and sadly a few days later this same spot was filled again with garbage.

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With this in mind, and well just driving on the streets and seeing the garbage around it, has led me to ask one question - Do we as Jamaicans understand what we are doing to our beloved island? Do we understand exactly what happens when we throw a plastic bottle through the window? Or when we simply don't recycle?

I honestly know that we do not understand because if we did , then I believe a lot would change.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Shelly-Ann Dunkley, the Environment Communications Officer at Wisynco, at the launch of their Recycle Challenge, to really try and understand the role they are trying to play to address this issue. She explained to me that while Wisynco does produce plastic bottles, they are very concerned about where that plastic in fact ends up and this is the rationale behind Wisynco ECO - to educate the consumers on the benefits of proper disposal and to provide them with outlets to do the same.

While this is a great idea and one that I fully endorse, I did a little Q & A on Market Me's Instagram page to understand why people don't recycle. The respondents in a nutshell blamed this on three reasons - people not knowing where to drop off plastics, not enough bins across the island and also lack of consistency in the collection by recycling companies.

I shared these answers with Shelly, who explained to me that while she agrees with the inconsistency of the pick ups, there are several locations where people can drop off. In fact, with next week (June 4th to 8th) being Recycling Week they will be partnering with many supermarkets islandwide so that people can drop off their recyclables at locations convenient to them. What is even better about this is that people will be rewarded for saving the environment with vouchers, shirts and bags.

For those of you reading this, not completely sold on the idea of recycling, I did a little research to share with you, that hopefully will inspire you to get those plastics to the nearest recycling outlet and to well, even start a recycling revolution at your offices. So here goes!!

1. Used plastics dumped into the waterways of the world kills marine life. In fact almost 8 million metric tons of plastic waste is collected from the world's waterways. This may be quite obvious but as a result of this just about 1,000,000 sea creatures are killed per year. In the long run this spells death to the fishing industry and for many countries like Jamaica this industry is one that supports their annual budget and provides jobs for many persons.

2. Normal plastics can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose especially in landfills and yes, 100 years from now that bottle you just threw out will still be around just chilling at the dump if it wasn't recycled properly. This also contributes to flooding. Its odd to think that a bottle will probably still be around longer than memories of you and I will be. What is even crazier is that styrofoam NEVER fully decomposes!

3. When plastic bottles are not recycled new bottles have to be made. This is done in order to keep up with consumer demand. We buy these use, them and discard them but rarely think of the process of making these bottles and the oil that goes into it. Yes OIL. It takes approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil to make enough plastic bottles annually for the United State alone. Imagine what it takes to make enough for global demand?!?

With all those facts, I can imagine that you are now beaming at the seams to pack up those plastics and head to the drop off locations below:

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Remember its a small planet... so Reuse, Reduce and of course RECYCLE!!!

About The Desk at 13 West

Market Me Consulting Limited is a Jamaican owned and operated communications company.

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