We post our clean-up pictures, talk about the after-clean-up lime, feel a sense of accomplishment, and wait for the International Coastal Clean-Up to roll around next year to go over the ritual again.
Meanwhile, beach-goers continue to litter the same beaches; disposable cups and containers cover defile the Gulf of Paria, and the crockery of choice at most high level functions is the styrofoam container. (FYI – a Google search reveals that Styrofoam takes 500 years to biodegrade!)
It is not difficult to understand why our coastlines are so polluted. As an island, our trash gets to the ocean quickly. I long for the day when this annual “beach clean-up” ritual is not so high on our “things to do” list because the beaches are cleaned routinely and citizens take their litter home or dispose of it in an appropriate, appointed bin. But this will not happen unless there is a robust awareness programme on one hand and a consequence management approach on the other hand.
I often focus on consequence management because it is one way of ensuring that we are all accountable for our actions. Citizens must feel the penalties for littering, and it must be swift. Unfortunately, the implementation of these penalties lies with the TTPS who demonstrate time and time again their reluctance to do their jobs and are not being held accountable. If half the level of enthusiasm demonstrated when the TTPS enacted their “day of total policing” is applied to the small tasks of issuing litter tickets, it can have a massive impact on our environment and indeed our understanding of our responsibility to dispose of trash.
There is a view that if you are not engaging in consequence management, you are in fact leading the chaos. We have systemic problems in several areas and we selected a party who promised to lead the change in the way we do things. The citizens who voted for, and are paying you to keep your campaign promises are still waiting for delivery of the promises. Let’s do this!