Kenyan volunteer and Miss Environment Kenya Elgeyo Marakwet Janet Chemitei chats about the country’s dependency on the (plastic) bottle.
August 28th 2017, environmentalists felt happy with their progress and achievement – the entire population, however, zero enthusiasm. The plastic ban was supposed to work and save our environment the agony of an ugly menace that plastics come with.
As a young child, I remember I was baptised in a river, very clean and fresh, nothing to worry about. Right now, I cannot even imagine dipping my feet in the water. So much has changed since then; plastic pollution is rife.
Despite the ban, plastics continue being a huge part of our lives; packaging, bottling, you name it all! And while there is a slight reduction in the number of plastic bags that find their way into rivers, single-use plastic bottles have been quite the accessory of water bodies, drainage systems and landfills. They are disposed of, left laying down begging for attention; yet the only action they might get is being kicked when it comes across someone’s way.
Nairobi for instance (and I have been here for almost four years now) which you might think it would be the embodiment of cleanliness as the capital city, it is not even close.
The governor of Nairobi introduced a monthly clean-up exercise which only worked well for that day and a few days afterwards, simply because the spirit of a cleaner and healthier environment seems to be exclusively locked within our boundaries; our homes and our workplaces.
Matatu (minibus) passengers and drivers carelessly throwing emptied bottles of water, fruit juices and soda are a common occurrence – even though the public vehicles already have dustbins hanging or placed somewhere in them.
As I go to class every day, I always come across used bottles in a ditch or drainage filled with stagnant water, just floating and looking uglier by the day. As long as it is not at any business owner’s door, it is left to be. How long are we going to depend on others to do what all of us should be doing without being directed to do so?
Greenpeace Africa volunteers are keen to change the mindset of plastic dependency. For a while now we have been conducting plastic surveys and audits, so we get to know and understand everyone’s story in a bid to find an easy and effective way of curbing the growing single-use and disposal of plastic epidemic.
We engage both men and women from universities to the women who sell groceries to us in markets. In Githurai for example, we have been able to reach out to a number of vendors, enabling us to find an effective approach to curbing single-use plastic.
It is for our own benefit that we practice reducing, reusing and recycling, as tough as that may sound. We need to adopt sustainable practices that result in less pollution. After all, we all share the Earth.