Editorial comment – Pick on litterbugs

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IT IS encouraging to note that there is a concerted effort leaning towards the protection of our natural resources.

At least that appears to be so when we consider the call for collective action to safeguard and protect it from the impact of improper waste management.

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

Mr Toganivalu said the 14 provincial offices present at the training would soon be litter officers who would be 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.

In keeping with that direction though, he said it was important that there was awareness about powers and limitations under the Litter Act.

He said the training would help litter officers fully understand their role and what they needed to do.

“We have come to recognise that the answer to the current littering problem requires a co-ordinated effort among all relevant stakeholders,” he said.

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 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, doing 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 last year, 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”.

He said because of such thoughtless decisions, the environment and people 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 us all to play our part to ensure 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.

Laws are in place to curb this rather 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!

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