LETTER:Let’s Address the Litter Problem Now

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Let’s Address the Litter Problem Now – Stop Paying Lip Service to it…………………by Audley Phillip

I commend the Hon. Molwyn Joseph for his leadership in spearheading the drive to rid our country of the plastic bags and foam containers.  Excellent initiative Sir but we still have a long way to go to clean up the existing mess on island and to ensure that our country remains clean.

There is still too much indiscriminate dumping of garbage all over and as I walk the streets of Antigua I am embarrassed and ashamed to see the almost daily dumping that takes place and the disregard shown by the citizenry in general.  A strengthening of the legislation concerning littering is necessary and people must be held accountable when they litter and be charged hefty fines as a deterrent.

A massive public education is required and it must start with the children even at the kindergarten level.    Everyone must understand that changing a common behavior, like littering, starts with them. Each person must accept responsibility for their actions and influence the actions of others around them at home, at school, in your place of business, and in the community at large.  Start with these actions:

  • Choose not to litter.  Make the commitment now to join with thousands of other Antiguans to not be a litter-bug.
  • Educate friends and family on the litter laws in Antigua.
  • Remind others not to litter and why.
  • Get a litter bag or portable ash receptacles to share.
  • Volunteer in your community to help prevent and cleanup litter—from cigarette butts to illegal dumps.   Create Keep Antigua Beautiful Teams in your community

Find out more ways you—and others—can help prevent litter in your community.

Every Individual

Set an example for others, especially family, co-workers, friends, and children by using trash  receptacles and not littering.

  • Always have available a litter bag in your car.
  • If you are a smoker, carry and use a portable or pocket ashtray.
  • If you see litter, pick it up.

Motorists

  • Carry and use a car litterbag.  When these are full, empty them into a trash  receptacle.
  • Use a car ashtray or portable ashtray to dispose of cigarette butts and lighting material.
  • Do not throw any litter out of vehicle windows.

Smokers

  • Before you light up, identify where you will dispose of your cigarette waste when you finish smoking. Use trash and ash receptacles, including pocket ashtrays.
  • Carry a pocket ashtray all the time or have a portable ashtray with you as you leave your home, office, or car.
  • Encourage fellow smokers to be responsible for their cigarette litter, too.

Pet Owners

  • Pick up after your dog as you walk through your neighborhood.  Use newspaper delivery bags, “scoopers”, or other easy-to-use methods to clean up after your pet.
  • Be sure to put pet waste in trash receptacles.
  •  It’s about time we take responsibility for our pet and his/her actions.

Community Residents

  • Make sure your trash cans have lids that can be securely fastened or use bungee cords to hold them in place.
  • Secure all bags and use twine to secure loose trash for curbside trash collection.
  • Tie paper into bundles before placing into curbside recycling bins.

Government Leaders

  • Provide litter bags for all government-owned vehicles.  And provide tarps to any government vehicles that may transport items that could become litter.
  • Identify “transition points” at all government-owned buildings; place ash and trash receptacles at these points and commit to proper maintenance of the receptacles.
  • Leading by example will encourage building owners and business managers to place ash receptacles at points outdoors where their employees and/or customers smoke. Consider adopting building standards to encourage adequate disposal containers.
  • Distribute portable or pocket ashtrays and litter bags.
  • Educate citizens about individual responsibility for proper waste disposalal.

Business Owners

  • Provide ash and trash receptacles at entrances, exits, loading docks, picnic areas as well as in parking lots and along walkways of your business.  Remember, these should be placed at “transition points” or where people generally gather.
  • Assure easy access to dumpsters by employees and contractors. Check dumpsters daily to see that top and side doors are closed. This prevents scavengers from spreading trash on the ground.
  • Cover all open loads on trucks leaving your business. Encourage vendors and contractors to do the same.
  • Educate your employees about the importance of individual responsibility for a clean and safe working environment.

Event Organizers

  • Make your festival, fair, or any outdoor community events “waste-wise” or “litter free” from the initial planning stages of the event.
  • Give out litter bags and portable or pocket ashtrays at the entrances of your event and make sure everyone knows that your event is a “waste-wise” or “litter free” event.
  • Place large trash receptacles near food venues and eating areas. Remember, a large event with a large number of attendees need large, well-marked receptacles.
  • If you place event volunteers nearby to help attendees find the receptacles as they need them, you will reduce clean up while educating people about recycling and proper waste disposal.

It is high time that we treat this litter problem with the urgency it deserves.  If we are trying to promote tourism  we must do more to address the filthy nature of our country.  As recent as Tuesday 10th April, when hundreds of tourists were milling about St. John’s, I witnessed a tourist stooping to pick up a beer bottle that was deposited on the side of the street after many locals simply walked over it.  This to me was a damming sight.

I am also urging the new Minister in charge of the esthetics in St.John’s, to move quickly and work with business owners to improve the esthetics within the city.  It is looking tired and run down and just some fresh paint on many of the buildings can do wonders.

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