Like most places in the world, Dominica has realized that it cannot be business as usual as far as the treatment of our planet is concerned. It may seem like Dominica is but a dot in the scheme of things, but how we live on this island can impact the rest of the world. The goal, after all, is to ensure that our future generations can live comfortably on planet earth. Though the idea that an island dubbed “the nature Isle” has to go back to the drawing board as far as the preservation of nature is concerned is ironic, no one is perfect and having recognized that we have erred, we must do all that is possible to get back on the right track.
Like most places in the world, our preoccupation with single-use plastic has become a problem. Thankfully, the government has implemented measures to veer us in the direction of adopting habits which would be beneficial to us and our future generations. The success of this venture, however, will require the acceptance of individual responsibility for change. In other words, there must be a change of mentality as it relates to how each individual views the impact of his or her behaviour on the island and planet in extension. Our lifestyles must change. We cannot continue to engage in practices which can cause irreparable damage to our environment.
A few years ago, there was a drive to decrease the use of single-use plastic, but that campaign was short-lived We all experienced Hurricane Maria and were first-hand witnesses to images of plastic bottles and bags intertwined with all that the hurricane had strewn about. If we are honest with ourselves, we will accept that all the plastic in our environment is our doing and that our planet is being affected as a result of our actions. It was recently reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that a “female rough-toothed dolphin was found stranded on a beach with a stomach full of trash including two plastic bags” We are big fish consumers on this island and no one would wish to encounter such a situation in our parts. As the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica must be a leader in the campaign to save our planet by supporting the government’s efforts.
As I write this, I reflect to earlier years when many used tin and enamel cups and plates, etc. I don’t remember seeing one Styrofoam container or plastic bottle strewn anywhere. I have also listened to adults speak of having to carry an enamel bowl to a restaurant to buy pelau to take home, and I wonder if we can get back to these days. I won’t say “good old days” because many will regard this as inconvenient and old style, but if we honestly consider how our new way of life has affected us, we would willingly embrace all that is necessary to repair the damage we have done.
The Government has put in place legislation to curtail the importation of single-use plastic and Styrofoam into the island, but legislation without education is useless as change can only be effectuated through education. We need to begin to educate the populace about how seemingly innocent actions can have a domino effect and change lives negatively. I suggest that schools, churches, business institutions, social clubs, and families pledge to join the campaign to promote sustainable living in order to secure our children’s future. We cannot control what happens elsewhere, but we can do whatever is necessary to ensure that our children enjoy the Dominica that we love and enjoy.
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