By Anthony Ochieng and Vincent Ojuka
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on 5 June every year and is the United Nations principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since 1974, the celebrations have been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues and challenges ranging from climate change, pollution, poaching, and deforestation among other environmental injustices. World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for public outreach, with participation all over the world.
Young Girls in Daraja Academy, Laikipia Kenya join the MITIgation project a four-year project for nurturing young people into conservation. Photo by Anthony Ochieng/TonyWild
This year’s World Environment Day theme is biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety and availability of life on earth. It includes plants and animals (living organisms) found in the environment which interact with each other directly and indirectly. Biodiversity is vital to the survival of all life on earth and is also the cornerstone for the goods and services of the environment that allow human societies to thrive. Biodiversity provides us with food, water, and resources as well as services such as climate control, pollination, flood mitigation, and cycling of nutrients. The clarion call this year is on the need for humanity to spur conversations and actions driven by environmental education on the commitment to protect, preserve, and restore biodiversity. This is to build momentum towards the Conference of the Parties 15 (COP 15) the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) later this year.
This year’s celebration is also vital as it gives pathways for discussions and deliberations for actions at the moment the global community through the United Nations is focusing on UN Decade on ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). This is to address issues around biodiversity degradation through ecosystem restoration plan like reclaiming and restoring wetlands and forest lands as well as addressing indiscriminate waste pollution.
We joined other young people across Africa to talk about the twin challenge by the United Nations Environmental Program. #mydegradationpain. Our degradation pain was the poor littering behaviour and waste management that has not only affected our rivers but also loss of biodiversity. The scenarios have also led to an increase in infections and diseases, our urge is to request people to be more responsible on littering and waste management. Let us work together to promote a circular economy and protect biodiversity.
Here is a video of the #mydegradationpain challenge
The current generation will never pay for the price of environmental destruction, and that is the problem. We are continuously destroying the environment; unknowingly or knowing. The price that the next generation will pay because of our actions will be unbearable. This begs the question,
“What is the cost you are leaving behind for your great-grandchild?” Destroyed forests? Dried up rivers? Heaps of litter in the ocean or rivers? No Wildlife roaming freely in the savannah?
BUT WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
We all love consuming amazing brands that are well-reviewed, packaged with amazing colors. They make us feel like the most superior in the animal kingdom. But, after using these amazing products do you ever ask yourself where the packaging will end up?
Think about it, most of us will let it slip off our hands to the ground, hoping that the city council will come and clean them up. What if the City Council never comes, you’ll have just completed the first step of “The simple way to starting a dumpsite for Dummies” – With just one plastic bottle and a few banana peels. At that same spot, the next human will drop his litter and the dumpsite will be established.
When it rains, all the litter you left behind will be swept into the river and other water bodies. The same water bodies, where you obtain your drinking water (repackaged into another plastic bottle). If it does not rain, the litter will begin decomposing and will produce that ‘pungent odor’ when you pass again at that place you started the dumpsite, you’ll block your nose, saying silently …” oh! My, that place sticks….”
Our Blankety-Blank (lousy) behavior towards the environment is the problem and if we continue at this state the next generation will pay a hefty price.
LEARN AND PRACTICE THE ART OF WASTE SEGREGATION FROM THE HOUSEHOLD TO THE AUTHORIZED DUMPSITE
This should be done from every household where you separate the dry waste from the wet waste. Dry waste includes wood and related products, metals, and glass. Wet waste, refers to organic waste such as leftover foods.
You may also segregate based on biodegradable or non-biodegradable waste. Biodegradable wastes are items that can break down into natural materials in the environment without causing pollution. While non-biodegradable are items that cannot be changed to a harmless natural state by the action of bacteria, and may, therefore, damage the environment
LEARN AND PRACTICE THE ART OF RESPONSIBLE LITTERING
After using any product, be respectful enough to drop it off at the designated area such as recycling bin or regular dustbin. Why should we drop it at that designated area as opposed to elsewhere or anywhere? A recycling plant will benefit, good habits can improve one’s lifestyle and you make the environment clean
APPLY THE PRINCIPLE OF 4RS OF WASTE MANAGEMENT
This should be applied at all levels from an individual, household, and industrial level. This helps to mainly reduce the operation costs.
SUPPORT CLEANUPS AND RIPARIAN RESTORATION PROGRAMS
Join passionate individuals or groups in carrying out restoration activities such as tree planting and clean-up activities. For instance, Kenya has green initiatives that mobilize individuals to clean rivers, towns, and parks, giving those areas their aesthetic value back. Team Environment Kenya, Clean up Kenya and Mazingira Yetu, have been at the forefront of restoring the dignity of our natural and man-made environments in Nairobi.
A group of young people Trained by Mazingira Yetu Organization cleaning up the Nairobi River at Korogosho section, Kenya photo: Anthony Ochieng/TonyWild on Assignment for Mazingira Yetu Organization
TEACH YOUR FRIEND, FAMILY AND SOCIETY TO STOP THE POOR LITTERING HABITS
When you see someone littering, kindly ask them to be responsible enough to take the waste to the nearby dustbin. Teach every young person that littering is not good and it causes pollution to the environment.
ASK YOUR FAVORITE BRANDS TO SUPPORT CONSERVATION INITIATIVES
When sipping your favorite soda at the park, take a picture and tag the manufacturer. Ask them to support a cleaning initiative of a river near you.
The environment needs you to take care of it, nobody will but you. Take a step today and make a difference.
TonyWild team is working towards nurturing people into conservation using science, photography, and film, we do this through our wild ideas, The MITIgation project, Visual Ecological Literacy Program, and Wildlife is life Campaign. Help us reach as many people as possible if you want to help email us on email@example.com or reach us throughout social media handles.
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