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Taking care of our solid waste – who can’t hear, must feel

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Fri, Jan 20. 2012

During the press conference called by the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) earlier this week, Manager of the Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU) Winsbert Quow mentioned that the solid waste project being planned for the Grenadines is “green” in the way it will be implemented.{{more}}

The solid waste programme on those tiny islands will include a regime of waste separation at source, recycling, waste reduction, composting etc, to take the pressure off landfills in the Grenadines because of those islands limited land space, fragile environment and dependence on tourism.

No doubt the SWMU is also considering a stepped up “green” effort for the mainland as similar concerns exist there, and at the rate at which we are going, the two existing landfills on the mainland may not have many more years to go. When they were set up, the lifespan of our land fills was estimated at between 20 and 25 years. Already, the Belle Isle and Diamond landfills have been in use for approximately ten years. The more waste we keep from going into the landfills, the longer the land fills will be useful to us.

During this week, the second of the SWMU’s free white goods collection service is taking place. It is amazing to see the truck loads of white goods heading to the landfill at Diamond. It is good that the SWMU is relieving us of having these discarded items in our immediate environment, but the capacity of the land fill is limited. In today’s world, it seems that when appliances go bad, they are not repaired, but replaced. As consumers, we really should explore the option to repair more strenuously.

Greener efforts at solid waste management require greater discipline and participation at the household and individual level than currently exists here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Waste separation at source, as is being proposed for the Grenadines, and eventually the mainland, will mean that residents will have to dispose of plastics, glass bottles and cans in separate containers, for pick up on different days. This practice has become second nature for persons living in most developed countries of the world and residents of those countries are fined if it is discovered that the solid waste they put out for collection is not separated.

One wonders how well we will adapt to the requirements of separation and volume reduction of our waste when they do come on stream here. Regrettably, it seems that many of us, even after years of public education and moral suasion are still struggling with the concept that littering and illegal dumping are unlawful, unsightly, unhealthy and pose a threat to our tourism industry.

The SWMU has for some time now been calling on the authorities to enforce the law in relation to illegal dumping. We join them in their call, as it is clear that there are some among us who show total disregard for efforts to have an orderly, safe society, and only comply when they are made to.

What is interesting is that what we are being called on to do today, is what our parents and grandparents did 40 or more years ago, without being forced to. There was a time when Kingstown had the reputation of being the cleanest capital in the West Indies. What went wrong? Why is it so difficult for us to take responsibility for our own health and well being?

We need an attitude change and we need it now, so it’s over to our law enforcement agencies. Start the prosecution of offenders. Who can’t hear, must feel.

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