EDITORIAL: Barbadians must Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Barbadians need to make a greater effort to embrace the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – as we are currently generating too much waste and seemingly not recognising the role we could play, in significantly reducing the level of garbage pile-ups across the island.
While it is a known fact that the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) needs to increase its fleet of trucks to better service the island and whilst improved route optimisation is key for the SSA, the truth is that Barbadians as a whole can do more to reduce, reuse and recycle waste in this country. It needs to be said that the 3Rs are still relevant today as they were in days gone by, when the concept was as new and fresh as ever. In fact, we can argue that the concept of the 3Rs is more relevant to us as a nation now, than ever before.
The first “R”, which speaks to reducing our waste, can be said to be the most effective of the three Rs and the first place to begin. It may however be the hardest concept for Barbadians to wrap their minds around. Too many Barbadians have seemingly bought into the world view of “bigger and better” and they willingly accept the view that “new trumps old” on any given day. And so we are constantly buying things and acquiring a host of consumer products covered in packaging, that is in no way environmentally friendly. Gone from our vocabulary are words such as “maintain” and “repair”, and instead “replace” and “acquire” are words that sit well with most of us.
The second R, which speaks to reusing product parts and packaging, suggests that we can shop wisely and before we make a hasty decision to discard anything, we can consider whether it has some life left in it. Consider that reusing keeps new resources from being used up for a while longer and old resources from entering the waste stream.
The third R, which speaks to efforts at recycling, may be the most popular. Recycling speaks to the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. This concept has caught on the best. However, greater effort can be made to actively engage in the process of recycling.
It is said that Barbadians generate an average of 1 000 tonnes of waste per day, of which domestic waste accounts for between 30 and 40 per cent and much of this 300 to 400 tonnes of domestic waste can be recycled. However, Barbadians may be in the habit of simply tossing what they believe to be trash, without giving full consideration to the 3Rs and the subsequent waste sorting process.
If we would only revisit the 3Rs at the level of our homes, schools, businesses and communities and go at it with gusto, we may find that there is less garbage to throw away and a lot more to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our landfill, our government and our local recycling centres would certainly be grateful for the effort, and our environment in general, would benefit as well.