Turks and Caicos -- Littering continues to be a big problem in our Islands. It is time we do something definitive and permanent to resolve this major problem.
As a child, whenever we were expecting visitors or company, our first duty was to clean up and tidy our small home.
Today, this simple and basic pride is somehow lost on us as a country.
Today, we are spending more and inviting even more people to our island home and selling ourselves as a high end destination. Our visitors are returning home to blog and tell the whole world about how dirty our little islands are. Forget about “beautiful by nature”. It means nothing if we are sitting on top of filth and garbage. Do we not all see it? Talk a walk along our prided Grace Bay Shopping Village and you will see for yourself. Walk or drive from any direction to the beautiful Grace Bay Gourmet and you will see it even at the quickest glance. Do the businesses not see it?
We should ask all people who live and work here and call these islands home to do their part to properly dispose of garbage and take responsibility for the garbage that gathers on our personal property and finally for government to enforce the law.
The solution to this problem is both easy and difficult.
The easy solution: Put recycling bins and garbage cans everywhere, clearly marked and constantly emptied. This involves private citizens (you), private investors and businesses and of course government working hand and hand.
The difficult and the larger solution is one of education and parental responsibility. So often I see children in schools unwrap their candy or juice bottle and just toss the trash on the ground. This is sad. I have asked kids on numerous occasions why this is their normal choice of action and the most common response is "I didn't know" or "I don't care," or “There is no trash can”
Why are the majority of our children not being taught to respect the environment? What are they being taught in school and why is it not being effective? Why are parents setting such bad examples for their children? Children regularly see their parents or other adults toss trash out the windows of their cars onto the road and around their property with no consequences.
These children will grow up to be the next citizens, leaders and workers, so I am asking parents and adults, please don't litter in front of your children! Teach your children that littering is a no-no and you will raise a non-littering adult. Take a small garbage bag with you wherever you go and collect and hold your trash until you find a proper receptacle. Help our children to know that they have other choices.
One Saturday morning after football, while having coffee at IGA Corner Café, I overheard the people at the next table complaining about how much litter there is in these Islands. They then proceeded to criticize the government and the ministry responsible for collection for not doing enough to clean up the litter that is turning our streets, beaches, parks and communities into visual eyesores.
I agree with them… partially. I do think the government and people who live and work here could do more in regard to picking up garbage in Turks and Caicos. The main problem however, is not that the government doesn't do enough to pick up litter. It is the people who litter! We should be not littering in the first place. How much effort does it take to carry a Styrofoam box (which I think should be banned from these islands), a newspaper or an empty take-out bag to the nearest trash can or even home? There are trash cans in some areas of our islands, yet people don't seem to be capable of carrying their litter with them and throwing it in a proper waste receptacle.
I think it is unfair to ask the government to spend more money to pick up litter and not ask the people of this country to stop littering. It takes next to no effort not to litter. However, it requires a great deal of our financial resources to clean up the mess.
I urge everyone in the country to make a personal vow not to litter. Adopt a one mile radius of wherever you live and work and make it your own. Call it the one mile radius project. I also urge government to organize some sort of a campaign to get people to clean up this country. The media should get involved. Remind us weekly (lest we not see) of how much garbage surrounds us.
Further, there should be continuous efforts through education and consistent collection of garbage. Is it too much to ask that people pick up litter in front of their houses or apartment buildings if they see it there on the ground?
If everyone spent a couple of minutes a week picking up garbage around their yard, it would make a huge difference in reducing the amount of garbage in our communities. It is simply about our personal and national pride.
Turks and Caicos Islands