Protecting environment, together

Debbie Jacob -
Debbie Jacob -

DEBBIE JACOB

YOU’RE PROBABLY thinking that we got away again. Yes, meteorologists were wrong when they predicted last week’s strange weather conditions would organise and pound Trinidad as Tropical Storm Bonnie. The storm veered northwest instead.

Over the years we have had enough close calls to become complacent about tropical storms and hurricanes. But make no mistake about it, weather patterns are changing, and danger looms large. There were signs of the time in last week’s meteorological reports that said it was unusual for tropical storms to pass this far south – especially in June. Meteorologists said temperatures in the Caribbean Sea were about seven degrees above normal for this time of year. They warned that warm seas could produce a tropical storm and turn it into a hurricane.

In the end, we must realise that the days of shrugging off our narrow escapes by thinking “God is a Trini” are over. Clearly we can’t count on normal weather patterns any longer. Climate change will cause our weather to become more erratic. Now, the question is how are we going to play our part in protecting the environment so we can stop or at least slow down the environmental damage that has been done?

Every time it rains and floods we see our blatant disregard for the environment as garbage clogs our rivers and spills onto the streets. The environmental crisis that we are witnessing is scary. When we watch our murky skies, we blame Sahara dust, but those long lines of traffic on the road are doing immeasurable, irreparable damage. Traffic jams are affecting our air quality.

We all have to work together to save the environment. Fighting climate change is our responsibility. Here are a few simple steps we can take to protect our environment. In the battle to stop climate change, every effort counts.

1. Don’t throw garbage at the side of the road in remote areas. Find out how to dispose of items – especially appliances – in a responsible manner.

2. Put pressure on the Government to sponsor or support meaningful, consistent recycling programmes.

3. Call on the Government to ban plastic bags, styrofoam containers and any packaging that is detrimental to the environment.

4. Take reusable bags everywhere you shop.

5. Use eco-friendly lighting like LED lights, which use less energy and conserve water. Fix leaky pipes.

6. As a family, strategise how to reduce driving your car by at least ten per cent a week. Car pool and take public transportation.

7. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products that you can purchase in stores or make your own. Use simple products like baking soda to scrub sinks and use vinegar to clean tile floors.

8. Recognise that burning leaves or grass is bad for the environment and pollutes the air. The smoke affects people who suffer from asthma and allergies. The city corporation passes through most neighbourhoods every day to pick up lawn cuttings placed at the side of the road. It’s a free service. Use it.

9. Opt for using fans rather than air conditioning. Drive with your car windows open when it’s cool.

10. Make organic gardening a family activity. Do your research online to find natural ways to grow your plants, vegetables and herbs. Pesticides pollute our water table, and they’re bad for us to ingest.

We need to think green – even when it comes to choosing plants for our gardens. A popular choice abroad is xeriscaping, which is the process of selecting drought-tolerant plants over plants that need to be watered in the dry season.

Encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs interested in developing eco-friendly businesses should also be our priority. There’s no reason why we can’t harness the creativity that we take for granted during Carnival and channel that energy into creating businesses that make products from recycled items.

Innovative companies abroad make shoes, clothes, toys and many other products from recycled plastic, rubber and other recycled items. The Government should provide incentives to develop eco-friendly businesses here.

We have taken our environment for granted far too long. The problem of climate change looms large and scientists say time is running out for us to make a difference. There will come a day when this problem is irreversible. As temperature rise, extreme weather patterns, tropical storms and hurricanes will become more frequent. One day we won’t get away. Last week should have been our wake-up call.

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"Protecting environment, together"

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