Litter problem on FacebookWashed-up litter on the East Coast. (Heather-Lynn Evanson)
Thu, June 14, 2012 - 12:03 AM
June marks Environment Month and for the next few weeks the Daily Nation will take a look at different issues facing the environment and people who are doing their part to beautify it.
THE PICTURES are familiar.
They are disturbing.
They are disturbing in their familiarity.
But environmentalist Peter Bynoe is trying to do something about them.
He is tackling the issue of the island’s chronic and ever present littering and illegal dumping problem head-on and in an “in-your-face way”.
Facebook is the medium he has chosen as his weapon and his page Keep Barbados Beautiful aims to do just that.
The page trumpets that its mandate is “highlighting problems with the environment in Barbados, like littering and illegal dumping, things that make the island ugly, and positive initiatives like clean-up campaigns and beautification projects”.
Lofty ideals, but surely not unattainable.
“Barbados is a beautiful place but it is constantly spoilt by Barbadians and unfortunately, the authorities don’t seem to take the environment seriously,” Bynoe said straight off the bat.
The problem is also compounded by the lack of prosecutions for littering in the last ten years.
This, said Bynoe, is despite the fact that people can be seen, in broad daylight, casually dropping their plastic and styrofoam cups, their fast food boxes, their junk food wrappers anywhere but in a garbage can.
Sometimes, he hastened to add, the blame could not always be foisted on the public since there was also a lack of garbage cans.
“We need more garbage cans,” he said. “Outside of schools, there is usually a lot of garbage but there are no litter bins so children have nowhere to place their garbage.”
He also wants harsher penalties for those caught dumping illegally.
“Embarrassing them and putting them in the paper is not enough. That person should not just be embarrassed and made to clean up; they should be fined heavily,” he said.
So on his website are pictures of illegally dumped barrels, with the names of the owners prominently displayed – not that the owners might be at fault, mind you; mounds of garbage in plain sight and mounds of garbage not so in plain sight.
On the other side, there is the photo of an unbelievably green and clean Garfield Sobers Sports Complex with its Future Centre Trust-planted trees.
“Well, at the start, it will highlight most of the ugly things,” Bynoe conceded.
“But I’m hoping, as time goes on, that it will start [to highlight positives], if changes happen.”
During his rounds of the island, he was quick to point out that there did not seem to be as many illegal dump sites as before. And he gave full credit to the island’s recyclers for this.
“The recycling industry has diverted a lot of the stoves, fridges and metal from the dump sites. I think it is just an economical thing,” he said.
But what he called “the traditional” dump sites were still there, like Adams Castle to Bannantyne, Christ Church, even though they were now filled with household and construction waste.
The response of the Internet public to his Facebook page has been good but he wanted people, other than himself, to post on the page.
And, he conceded, it still had a long way to go, like encouraging people to participate in clean-up campaigns.
“Everybody wants the beach cleaned, but the reality is nobody wants to do it. I just hope we can make things better because we have so much potential,” he said.
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