I live in a Small Island Developing State (SID), vulnerable to contemporary global changes and challenges. This is intermingled with mismanagement of natural resources and processes. This ranges from the demand for raw materials to poor environmental practices, including waste management capacity. While the world strives to move away from unsustainable practices, there is a tendency for unsustainability to proliferate where it causes the most damage. Similarly, related issues such as lack of education and unsustainable traditional practices contribute to environmental challenges. Plastics remain in the environment for an indefinite time; they are not biodegradable. So why is something with such environmental consequences deemed a ‘disposable’ item? For World Environment Day 2018 the theme of “beating plastic pollution, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it” can be simply put as aiming to prevent plastic from becoming ‘pollution’.
Single use plastic is a part of everyday life and a tool of convenience, but it causes pollution that can be otherwise prevented. We must adopt ways of living and habits that are more environment friendly. Pre-existing plastic pollution is another problem that must be managed through practices like recovery and recycling. The ideal is to prevent further pollution using methods like education and awareness against single use plastics. Recyclable and renewable materials for purposes like building, storage and other aims do less damage to the environment and are crucial to beating single use plastics.
Examples of our projects:
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter advocates for upcycling- which is the transformation of trash into treasure. This activity encourages children to use the single use plastic waste they produce to create useful items for longer term applications. This is one way we can combat plastic pollution. For World Environment Day 2018 we are embarking on a social media campaign to promote alternatives to single use plastic products. This will demonstrate the simple ways to cut out the use of these items by using other available options.
Katrina Khan-Roberts is a tourism, health, safety and environment professional with special interest in the sustainable use of the coastal zone. She advocates actively for awareness of climate change, sustainable development and is currently the president of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter. She uses her expertise on technical and creative capacity, to bring different perspectives together.