Use, don’t abuse!

Garbage is a major problem in Barbados. And it’s not the weekly collection of garbage by the Sanitation Service Authority that is being referred to here.

As it is, SSA does yeomen service in its collection and disposal of garbage; albeit, with limited resources. It is great news that the department recently acquired new trucks to help with this country’s solid waste management.

The major problem is that some Barbadians still do not understand the relationship between the flippant “getting rid” of garbage and the harmful effects on the environment.

A recent article in the Barbados Today reported that Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Patrick Todd, “told the chamber that across the world there were penalties and fines in place for littering and as a result residents in those countries were a bit more cognisant of their impact on the environment, but in Barbados there was still too much illegal and inconsiderate dumping taking place” (Bajans Urged to Consider Their Health by Latoya Burnham, May 15, 2013).

In Barbados the laws regarding littering are seldom enforced; and the fines are too miniscule anyway.

So the perennial problem of littering persists. Haven’t we all witnessed people throwing things out the windows of moving vehicles – private and public. And haven’t we seen some Bajans walking and dropping snack wrappers, the husk from nuts, snow cone cups, and used tissue? What about those who leave empty Styrofoam lunch containers and beverage cans on benches, walls and sidewalks – even though public garbage receptacles are nearby!

We really have to do a lot better than this!

At this point, a passage of Scripture is instructive. In Genesis 1:26-28 God created human beings, and specifically gave them the power and authority over His creation. Then in Genesis 2:15 we read “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (New International Version).

Commenting on the former passage The Believer’s Commentary succinctly states, “God gave man a mandate to subdue creation and have dominion over it – to use it but not abuse it. The modern crises in the earth’s environment are due to man’s greed, selfishness, and carelessness” (emphasis added).

Also, in an article last year, June 25 to be precise, this column stated that in passages like Genesis 12:7 and Joshua 1 we see God giving the land of Canaan as an inheritance to Israel. This demonstrates the importance of land space to God – the value He places on the heritage of land and property.

Presently there are a number of signs erected just on the outskirts of Bridgetown, proclaiming to travelers that “You Are Entering A UNESCO World Heritage Property.” One such sign has been placed by the Passage/Baxters Roads junction. But the sad thing is that just a few hundred metres away in an open lot on the right there is usually a pile of garbage. No, we cannot have this at all!

Certainly, it’s high time for new litter laws that have “teeth” and “muscles”. This is what minister of the environment and drainage, Dr. Dennis Lowe, was getting at when he said recently: “I think one of the problems we have in our society is not so much the absence of laws, it is the lack in enforcing those laws and really attaching the right type of penalty. If you charge a guy $10 for littering, we lose $20 sometimes just by dropping it. So what is there to be a deterrent” (Barbados Today June 05, 2013).

Perhaps, we need to adopt a similar stance to that of Trinidad and Tobago where fines for throwing litter out of the car has jumped from $50 to $500; and there are litter wardens deployed across the country to ensure compliance to the litter laws.

At this time of heritage month in Barbados, we should rally behind the minister’s sentiments that “we cannot have a sustainable environment unless we seek seriously to ensure that those persons who are contributing to this degradation are brought before the law courts and penalised for such.”

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