Watch those litterbugs

Fred Wesley | Tuesday, December 19, 2017
THE revelation that there are several cases of littering before the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be welcomed by many people.
Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU
Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Minister for Local Government Parveen Kumar said littering was a problem which persisted in the country and the Government was working with stakeholders to address it. Acknowledging the efforts of individuals, corporate companies and groups that had helped by hosting various activities, he said there was a need for a "continuous program".

There has to be a continuous effort, he said, by individuals "and companies, to see our environment is clean and tidy".

Littering is a rather touchy issue it seems. Laws are in place to police this filthy habit.

Are our laws effective though?

Or could it be that being effective could come down to how well those who are designated to do so are able to police them?

It does leave a sour taste in many mouths that there are people who continue to litter despite the availability of rubbish bins in many of our urban centres.

If that isn't enough, some people litter right beneath signboards that warn litterbugs will be dealt with.

The fact that we have a litter decree should add impetus to the bid to improve cleanliness around the country.

Plastic, empty water and soft drink bottles are major worries for the environment.

People tend to throw these indiscriminately when they have no use for them.

Environmentalists believe littering is a nasty side effect of the "throw-away" or "convenience-oriented" mentalities.

In our urban centres, the burden of litter clean-up usually falls on municipal councils.

In December 2013, former president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau referred to littering as the culture of the throwaway package.

He said it was one of the worst facets of Western consumerism that people of the Pacific had embraced.

He said while "we can blame the manufacturers for packaging their products in these containers in the first place", the responsibility "for disposing of them properly is solely our own — all of us".

This should be something that comes from within us.

As Ratu Epeli rightly pointed out, if conservation efforts within the region were to be substantial, it had to include a personal decision made by people of the Pacific to dispose their garbage properly.

Change is inevitable. However, change sometimes isn't easy to accept.

But change will be good for our environment.

We can start being part of this change by taking the initiative to stop littering.

We should make a commitment to keep Fiji clean.

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