Wednesday, April 17, 2024

EDITORIAL: Earth Day worth our attention


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TODAY IS BEING observed worldwide as Earth Day. In Barbados, it is not a major event. Indeed, it is an occasion which may evoke from many people the casual retort: So what?

Conservation, community engagement and awareness are the pillars on which Earth Day is celebrated. These are all ideals with which every resident of this country should identify and be committed to upholding.

We have first-hand instances of the impact that mistreating the environment can have. There is the indiscriminate dumping of garbage which takes place daily, the emission of smog from poorly working vehicles, the thoughtless burning of trash and smoking up of neigbourhoods, and the unnecessary felling of trees. These are but a few of the issues with which this country must contend.

The message of Earth Day is therefore one of both personal responsibility and a clear public policy working together to defend the environment. This can be achieved by ensuring that we continue to enjoy an unpolluted water system, clean air, and soil free of contaminants for this and future generations.

The protection of our environment cannot be left to the state only, but also driven by individual and community engagement. It is about consistently exhibiting the right habits and behaviours by working with Mother Nature, rather than against it.

We can help by greater installation of solar panels on our roofs, a reduction in the use of plastic bags, the effective collection of garbage and the practical application of reducing, reusing and recycling programmes within every household and business. At the same time, there must be the preserving of remaining ecological wetlands, thereby creating a safe haven for migratory birds and the protection of hawksbill and leatherback turtles.

We should be using fewer plastic bags and consider reuseable shopping bags as traditional plastic bags blight the natural environment, clog up waterways and take hundreds of years to degrade. We need also to make a switch from traditional incandescent to energy-efficient LED bulbs, pay bills online, plant trees, switch off lights when not in a room, use less air conditioning and buy energy-efficient products.

These are but a few of the practical ways in which Barbadians can embrace good habits and environmentally friendly and practical changes. Change must start in our homes, schools and workplaces.

Today – Earth Day – must not become a promotional opportunity for the marketing of a variety of goods and services. It is not a commercial event, but a conscious effort to raise awareness about a wide range of environmental issues and problems. It is to inspire people to take personal action to address them. Only by having year round action to protect what we have inherited can we be assured of leaving a better planet earth to our heirs.


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