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New ideas for environmental protection

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Residents of St Vincent and the Grenadines are blessed to inhabit a space where, for the most part, clean water still flows in the catchment areas of our rivers, we breathe in the fresh air of our mountain breezes, the diversity of flora and fauna in our rainforests is a joy to behold and our fertile soils still produce healthy food to nourish our bodies.

The majority of Vincentians would, however, have to admit that those positive aspects of our environment that remain, exist no thanks to us. Far too many of us use our streets, drains, cliffs, rivers and beaches as garbage bins; indiscriminately use pesticides and other chemicals in our agriculture; mine sand from our beaches to satisfy the insatiable appetite of our construction industry; and have been denuding our mountainsides as we go in search of lands for agriculture and construction.

The fact is, although we pride ourselves in how well we keep our homes and immediate surroundings, in general, we pay lip service to environmental protection, and the evidence of this is in our behaviour.

The sad thing is, most of us are oblivious to the damage we are already doing and have become blind to how unattractive our roadways have become. One day we will wake up and realize that what we had taken for granted no longer exists.

Most of us commute daily to our various destinations using motorized transportation. Very few persons walk to work or school, even those who live within a 20-minute stroll of their destination. When we quickly drive or ride from place to place, we miss how untidy the sides of the streets and vacant lots have become with household, business and construction waste.

This is why when initiatives are taken to combat environmental degradation, we are among the first applaud, whether the move is made by Government, the private sector, community groups or individuals.

Earlier this year, the importation of styrofoam products to St Vincent and the Grenadines was banned; then, a few weeks later, we learned that Government is moving to enforce restrictions on the mining of sand from our beaches. These positive steps are long overdue and we commend the Government for them.

Then, this week, when Coreas Hazells Inc launched the new dissolvable packaging for a brand of cement they distribute, the promotion immediately caught our attention. We thought, what a brilliant idea, and why hadn’t someone thought about that before?

We commend the search for ideas about how we can better protect our environment to our young thinkers, such as those involved in the annual ideas and innovation competition of NTRC, which will move into the finals phase next week.

We can and must do better than we currently are doing, in relation to environmental protection.

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