Editorial comment – Fighting the litterbug

Littering and improper disposal of rubbish can bock drain and waterways. Picture: FT FILE

On this day in 2019, we highlighted the issue of littering and the protection of our environment.

It was actually encouraging to note that there was a concerted effort leaning towards the protection of our natural resources at the time.

There was a call for collective action to safeguard and protect it from the impact of improper waste management.

The iTaukei Affairs Board deputy officer at the time Josefa Toganivalu made the comment while officiating at the opening of the litter prevention officers enforcement in Suva.

He said the 14 provincial officers present at the training would be litter officers authorised to issue stop notices to any littering problems which could destroy the environment.

The board, he said, through its conservation and climate change program, had considered waste and management to be a priority focus.

He spoke about the importance of awareness about powers and limitations under the Litter Act.

The training was designed to help litter officers understand their role.

Discussions also focused on recognising that the littering problem required a co-ordinated effort among relevant stakeholders. Let’s admit it! Littering is a filthy habit that is wide-spread.

We adopt a no-care attitude when it comes to littering. In fact, to a certain extent, we seem to have developed a habit that has become a part of our lives.

People are still spitting out chewing gum, disposing of their cigarette butts indiscriminately, throwing out plastic food containers and utensils wherever they want to, and they do the same with their used water or soft drink bottles, and plastic bags among other things.

Our beaches are filled with discarded waste, including plastic, old tyres, and used cans to name a few.

In August 2018, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that every “single piece of rubbish represents one thoughtless decision made by someone who couldn’t have been bothered to make the effort to dispose properly of their waste”.

Because of such thoughtless decisions, the environment and people, he said, were threatened.

All the thoughtless decisions are adding up, he said, and “it is our environment, our marine life, our economic security and the welfare of our people that is threatened as a result”.

He made the comments while opening the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Clean Pacific Roundtable at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

The PM spoke about the need for Fijians to play a part in ensuring the oceans are no longer seen as a dumping ground.

The same, he said, goes for our waterways, our rivers, our bays and our beaches, “and the same goes for all of Fiji”.

Rubbish that starts by the side of the road, he said, very often ends up washed into the sea. Littering shouldn’t be a touchy issue. In fact it should concern us that litterbugs are around us and don’t care about the environment.

Laws are in place to curb this filthy habit. Being effective though will come down to how well people who are designated to do so, police them.

Environmentalists believe littering is a nasty side effect of the ‘throw-away’ or ‘convenience oriented’ mentalities

. We should be looking after our environment.

We should be proud of it, embrace what we have, and do the right thing. Let’s start by taking the initiative to stop littering as individuals.

Get the message out. Stop littering! We acknowledge Fijians who take the initiative to keep their environment clean. Thank you!

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