Everybody has a role to play in conserving the environment

Back to basics, the environment is typically the natural and built environment. The natural environment being the living and non-living things such as climate, weather and natural resources that affect human survival and the economic activities.

The built environment refers to the transformed landscapes such as the urban areas and the converted agricultural lands. Where do we as the common man, with our regular day to day life come in? How can we be part of a change or part of ensuring we sustainably manage our environment?

Let’s start with how do you go about your day to day life? Most of us think we have a small role to play but the greatest and tiniest detriment to our natural environment starts with us through littering, dumping and pollution.

Let’s start with the simple things such as when you buy your morning coffee or the sandwich you quickly grab because you have no time to seat for lunch, or the chewing gum you take with you as you rush for that meeting, where do we dispose of these litter?

Many people are of the habit of leaving this trash on the next surface they come across, like on someone’s office desk or at the reception room as you wait to be attended to or worse still, there are those who, especially in less developed countries who just throw it at the next hedge they come across.

This is regardless of it being an office space or someone’s backyard. The insensitivity of such people is what is slowing down the drive towards achieving cleaner, friendlier environment.

Most may argue that, it is the work of the local county councils to clean up and true, it is, but not to clean up after you.

Granted some city councils have failed to provide many points where disposal bins can be found, but with the few that are already installed, can we start with that? We can pick up the habits of keeping our disposables, because we are the ones who used them anyway, and only dispose of them when we find a bin.

If we all pick up such a habit, what is to keep the environment we live in free from dirt and little annoying pieces of paper or disposable cups or plastic bags that could otherwise be properly disposed.

And to the county councils, improve on the efficiency of the services you provide to the citizens;  This is by ensuring there are many points of disposal around the city, emptying the bins on time, sweeping the streets to clear the accumulated dirt and do regular clean-ups of the city.

The council also needs to ensure that they not only focus on the city which are thronged by office buildings but also provide proper services for us in our home areas, which is where most of the dumping happens.

This can be done by having bigger bins and timely garbage collection in rotations of alternate days of specific days in a week.

Once we the residents of an area see a routine in the way the council works, it is easier to work with them.

We will then avoid all the mess of dumping sites in random places in the areas we live. We all want a better and cleaner living environment.  In doing this, we as citizens will be encouraged to keep our cities cleaner knowing we are part of a greater cause.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to even find youth or women groups willing to volunteer for the regular city and home area clean ups.


Rwandan youths participating in Umuganda

We can emulate Rwanda, a small landlocked country that has managed to bring together its people for a monthly clean-up of the city of Kigali. This is referred to as ‘Umuganda” which means, coming together with a common purpose to achieve a specific outcome.

Nobody is allowed to skip this activity unless with the written permission from the authorities.

This participation has not only improved the cleanliness of the city but has also brought people together, united them and strengthened their communities. And maybe not all countries can manage to bring its people together for a common purpose such as this but we can all certainly try by starting with this small change in habits.

We can try the friendly scolding when one litters, gently reminding each other that change starts with us and subsequently it flows to those around us. Let us make it an addictive habit to always hold on to the litter until we see the next bin.