Make recycling a priority

Before the time of Mount Trashmore, the original settlers on the Cayman Islands found it mandatory to recycle.

Items were used and reused in inventive ways for lack of resources.

With the advance of modern conveniences, recycling became an antiquated notion.

Isn’t it time we do what we are supposedly teaching our children: Take responsibility for your own actions. This is a grassroots movement that needs to come from the hearts of each individual, spread through out our society then spill into our education, legal system and governmental process. It begins with each one of us looking at litter in disgust, then taking the initiative to bend down and pick it up to dispose of it properly.

Recycling efforts are for everyone. There needs to be a concerted effort between our communities of this nation and the government. The recycling bin sites are rarely used and when they are, they are misused. The bins clearly state: Aluminum cans only. Both here and in Cayman Brac, I have taken my cans to the bins and found not only the bags they were brought in with, but also lunch waste with food, Styrofoam and other non-aluminium products dumped in as well.

We need an appropriate recycling programme.

I recently witnessed a well-known company dumping an enormous amount of old newspapers in the dumpster on a blustery day. I was shocked that such a company could conceivably not have a recycle programme for their unused products. What made matters worse was a large amount of the papers escaped the bin by being caught up in the breeze to desecrate the landscape.

Certainly, such recycling efforts would be costly to set up, but perhaps the government could see fit to make sure such an endeavour to set up a recycling plant would have duty free concessions and set up a bond system to aid in the financing of such a company. With the amount of cottage industries we are now generating on this island, it would eventually be not only eco-friendly, but also economically sound for us to distribute the recycled goods to our indigenous industries such as water companies, juice and sauce producers, reading materials such as newspapers and periodicals.

Tires are another commodity that could be recycled to not only reduce the landfill and pollution, but remove mosquito habitations while providing landscaping materials and raw materials for the building and maintaining of our ever growing road systems and/ or surrounding landscaping.

The amount of discarded glass beer bottles generated by the restaurant and bar industries is another target market.

Our groceries bags are another easily recycled product. One would think the grocery stores could easily come up with some incentive for their customers to recycle the bags and reduce their own cost of business.

Has there been any investigation with Cuba for our large scrap items? Though the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market reaches a small sector of our population, it is my personal feelings that it would be a good site to launch a recycle education initiative. Recyclable goods could be brought in for proper disposal bins and a designated individual could be on hand to educate people who bring in their recyclables assuring the bins are not contaminated. A community composting site could be established. Other sites could include shopping plazas and community fairs and events.

Another opportunity for such a recycle kiosk would be to introduce what throwaway household items and recyclables could be reused in charitable or non-profit organisations: Red Cross and other charity thrift shops can use plastic grocery bags; Cayman Island Humane Society, veterinary clinics and schools as well as pet shops always needs newspapers and old (but clean) towels; Women’s Crisis Centre has need of household items; Botanic Gardens needs old planting pots for procreating plants. Those are only a few that I know of and I would be interested in learning who else could benefit from my discards before I sacrifice them to the heights of Mount Trashmore.

More emphasis should be placed on recycling/conservation in all our schools. Science fairs should promote such a cause. Our new university should be earmarking recycling and conservation courses to introduce our future generation of students and citizens. Not only should they be aware of such recycle needs in all industries on this island, but to train for specialised areas in the job markets for such companies.

Recycling is well on its way to becoming one of the most lucrative industries on this planet.

Once a proper recycling system is implemented, most if not all companies would be required to rethink the disposal of all their waste and packaging products and be held liable for any infractions. In other words, legislation making recycling laws mandatory would be necessary as well as the manpower within businesses to make sure they are adhered to. Before that, proper education and research is needed to pen a systematic and legal system bringing this effort to fruition.

This is no more a far-flung idea than the inauguration of electric and water companies were just a few decades ago. A growing need and demand in our country for these innovations has come about in like manner as is our waste disposal, alternative energy sources and recycling needs of today.

There is hardly a place on any of our islands where trash hasn’t been dumped either on the road, in the bush, construction sites, businesses, residents, etc. We need to have a mindset of pride for our country, concern for the future of our children and ourselves.

Enough finances have been wasted depending on others to clean up our messes. The last thing we need to fill Mount Trashmore with is our hard earned money and Cayman needs a thorough cleaning!

Kathleen Bodden-Harris