A recent visit to Guyana left me mentally and physically drained. This despondency was not the result of some political decision, but the wanton destruction of the environment.
Guyana continuously imports plastics for its use, either as bags or some other form such as wrappings, but then no plan that is efficient, at disposing, or removing the discarded plastics from the environment. The discarded plastics are seen floating away in the trenches and canals when it rains, only to gather and clog the waterway exits at major run off points.
This non-plan, to remove garbage, has left the landscape inundated with non-biodegradable refuse that has transformed Georgetown and other areas from the Garden City to the ‘Trash City’.
Everywhere one goes, there is trash littering the streets indicative by the compilation of the mounds of plastics in every waterway and open space.
It is easy to blame the government for the unwanted filth that greets every concerned person, but the dilemma is due to the total disregard for the environment by the citizens of Guyana. This garbage problem is not only the responsibility of the government, but is also caused by the citizens that take no pride in how the cities and waterways across the country look.
If some pride existed, then there would be a collaborated effort, by all, not to discard trash so conveniently by just tossing plastic refuse with ease.
The waterway of Commerce Street is a total disgrace. A quick glance of the said waterway induces instant nausea and signifies over indulgence with the way food is consumed and disposed. The area around the courts is also despicable and needs to be garbage neutral.
It may have been explainable if only a few areas within the city were filthy, but it seems as though this scourge is supported by a nasty national behaviour. Every where I travelled in Guyana there are tons of plastics and other garbage piled in every open spot.
The national pride that Guyanese had about their country seems to have been completely dissipated; for when I objected to a young man throwing a plastic wrapper onto the streets, his answer was “why don’t I pick it up”. His repugnant behaviour was not influenced by my asking him to be tidy instead he nonchalantly acted as though I was the offender.
If his attitude is endemic and typical of the majority of Guyanese then more drastic efforts on the part of the government is necessary to make the country appear clean again.
There is a solution to this problem, but it is dependent on the government ensuring that all bags and wrappers imported are made of paper. Paper wrappings are degradable and with time would disappear.
Even if some plastics are substituted by paper bags and paper wrappers this small change would significantly reduce the build up of garbage. However, other methods should be in place to serve as a deterrent to this unhealthy consumption pattern so widely displayed by the citizens of Guyana. Tickets should be issued by street patrols (police) to anyone caught throwing refuge garbage on the streets. Convenient trash collectors should also be at every corner. The fines collected from issuing tickets should be used only to defray the collection of refuse and not to supplement other expenditures not related to garbage collection.
In Canada citizens are fined heavily if they have been caught littering. Repeat offenders are fined more heavily for throwing candy wrappers or other refuse on the streets. Results are the streets are clean, in fact much more than they are in Guyana. One would agree that any fine to the citizens would be a financial burden, but there is also a greater financial burden inherent when garbage is so easily dispose on public lots and open spaces.
Let us imagine how the city looks to those who have not visited Guyana before this callous behaviour became so prevalent. The impression they leave with would not be too pleasing to the people of Guyana. The tales they tell would only reinforce the impression that Guyana is poor and also very dirty.
Let us all make a concerted effort to beautify the land many of us claim to love so dearly.