Plastic Free July is not just another hashtag gimmick. If you are on social media you can look up #PlasticFreeJuly, tap into lots of information – and most importantly, get involved. We can start by tuning in to ECCO Magazine’s live chat this evening at 8:00 p.m. Jamaica time, for a conversation on eco-conscious living. Follow ECCO on social media, and watch out for their revamped online magazine, coming this month.
This month will not trivialize a very serious issue, although social media slogans and jingles help to spread the word. The Problem of Plastic has been plaguing our island for decades now. It’s not a “one size fits all” issue. In Jamaica, as we know, solid waste management is complex, involving public and private sector as well as citizens themselves. There are universal actions we can all take, while some solutions have to be tailor-made for the island. They require commitment and effort – and most of all, a sustained effort.
Plastic Free July has a focus on people – what the “man/woman on the street” can do about the overwhelming presence of plastic. It is lurking right outside our gate right now, where I noted that a passer by tossed his plastic soda bottle on the sidewalk. It has become so much a part of our landscape that tourists and visitors comment on it (I have heard these comments). “Yes, Jamaica is beautiful, but…” We, as locals, have become almost “plastic-immune.” It does not register any more in our consciousness, and I find this alarming.
We need to change this. The Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign has had a great impact on people’s behavior and attitudes. Unfortunately, its Cleanup Network sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has been postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting together to clean up where you live may not be an option right now; but individual actions (and putting some thought to it) are always possible. However, there is definitely strength in numbers.
The rising tide of plastic is not inevitable. It is not something we can do nothing about. It has major implications for climate change – for another discussion. Plastic is a symptom of humans’ contempt and disregard for the health of our Planet (and inevitably, our own health).
Let’s talk solutions, and let’s do it together. Stay tuned as ECCO (and I) will continue to focus on this throughout the month.
And see what you can do. Yes, you.
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Follow Plastic Free July on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @PlasticFreeJuly.