It is far more exasperating than amazing the miscellany of garbage we will find on the beaches we boast to the world are among the finest and most golden on this planet. And this sordid state of affairs on an island whose successive Governments and proud populace cock-a-doodle-doo every dawn about their literacy, education and development!
As we tell ourselves –– at least formally –– none of us like living in grubbiness, filth and squalour. The contradiction, however, manifests itself dominantly whenever civic-minded citizens set about their mission of environmental cleansing.
How can it be achievable for a mere two dozen crews in a matter of hours to collect by hand two tonnes of garbage and half-tonne of recyclable material from our South Coast, West Coast and East Coast beaches and their environs? And this is setting aside the nigh 13 tonnes of sargassum seaweed –– thanks to Mother Nature –– harvested on our seashores by an equally willing and dutiful band of patriots.
How is it possible that our clean-up corps can exercise after exercise, occasion after occasion, year after year, continue to be confronted by such a gallimaufry of waste that ranges from plastic cups and plates to glass bottles, to old shoes and tattered clothes, to discarded magazines and newspapers, to window panes and fibreglass doors, to splintered lumber and shattered cement blocks, to broken chairs and bedheads, to useless stoves and refrigerators, to outdated television sets and computers, to personal items like frayed toothbrushes, missing-tooth combs and stretched condoms, ad nauseum?!
How is it feasible for a people who see their island home as the “gem of the Caribbean” to contribute to a nation up-and-coming as a known place for marked litter strewn across its beaches, parks and other spots of its landscape –– domestic and industrial junk and garbage dumped anywhere and everywhere? Why should it be conceivable for “beautiful Barbados” to be alternately described as a collective in which Government and privately owned open lots are strikingly overrun by weed and bush –– havens to vermin and service providers of dengue and chikungunya?
In vain, some of us shout to the heavens about this uncleanliness, befoulment and defilement; and the powers that be, as if only to appease, in harmony promise national public education programmes on how to be tidy and sanitary, and oft-times openly threaten stiffer penalties for persistent transgressors, but nothing comes of either. And we resign ourselves to the ubiquitous foulness and sleaze, taking reprieve and relief when the more courageous and gallant among us gather cutlasses and bags and go a-cleaning once again.
Thank God for International Coastal Clean-Up Day last Saturday. The Almighty knows we needed it.
And what we require even more is fewer of the namby-pamby excuses for the dirty habits those among us have been cultivating in the last couple of decades. We aver that littering in Barbados is beyond having a bad attitude, or even suffering a stroke of laziness.
It is downright nastiness and wickedness of a people, who social activist Bobby Clarke –– though for different reasons –– is convinced cannot think. We say would not!
No thoughtful or rational person could subsequently contemplate wishing away the garbage he or she dumps illegally, or manifesting the vanishment of the litter strewn recklessly from car, bus or truck in divers places.
Only the dim-witted, devilish and dastardly would contaminate our coastal waters wherein is the marine life upon which we feed. Would block up our gullies with all forms of wreckage, snarling our waterways and causing unnecessary flooding and house damage. Would by their polluting debris and drek put at risk the world-known purity of our drinking water –– the envy of many another country.
These acts and deeds that put the health and well-being of everyone of us in danger are criminal in nature, if not by law, and need to be dealt with firmly by the powers that be –– if only they could be resolute about it.
All the palaver at home and abroad about greening and the environmental sustenance of this small-island state of ours will remain the empty talk and babble that it is, if we will not take to some serious grounding in national cleanliness and hygiene. The practice cannot be a choice; only a prerequisite and commitment.
We cannot continue to depend on a few valiant souls to keep cleaning up behind us. It is inexcusable, immoral and exploitative having these brave and thoughtful souls soiling their hands with our scattered refuse, dross, scrap and grime –– in effect, doing our dirty work!