THIS year’s World Earth Day was celebrated on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Since April 22, 1970 when United States Senator, Gaylord Nelson, first rallied the support of millions of Americans to support efforts to promote conservation and protect the environment, the awareness ballooned to a worldwide phenomenon, with 192 countries now officially celebrating the world Earth Day.
The growing popularity of joining hands to save the world culminated in the famous Paris Climate Agreement signed within the framework of the United Nations in 2016. There is now a global commitment to tackle environmental pollution, especially the types caused by greenhouse emissions.
This year’s celebration is centred on the need to spread awareness about pollution which plastics cause with a view to ending its use around the world. The age of oil precipitated unquantifiable amounts of hydrocarbon byproducts, especially plastic. It has left the earth gasping for breath. Plastic products used in packaging industrial goods all over the world litter the environment because they cannot decay. They wreak massive havoc on living things, endanger our health and impoverish the environment.
The decision of the United Nations to seize the platform of this year’s Earth Day to mobilise action against the rage of plastic on the environment is a task for all. Here in Nigeria, with our rapidly-rising population, plastic waste occupies prominent space within the environment because very little action is being taken to permanently dispose of it. However, the Federal Government, according to the Minister of State for the Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, has developed a national strategy for the phase-out of non-decaying receptacles and its replacement with organic alternatives. He also unfolded plans to implement a National Plastic Waste Recycling Programme. According to him, such plants have already been set up in five states: Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Gombe and Kano, with more to come in other states.
More efforts in these directions are very urgently needed. The private sector should be encouraged to embrace the establishment of recycling plants to fast-track the retrieval of plastic waste from the environment and ensure that Nigeria is not left behind in the global effort to end the plastic menace.
Also, there should be massive investments in organic alternatives in the packaging of goods. Some incentives should be created to encourage companies packaging their products with organic materials while those packaging with plastic should be sanctioned and encouraged to go green.
The war to restore the good health of the earth is a noble cause. It will ensure that the earth will remain a habitable place for generations to come. Let all people be reminded that unless we take care of the earth, the earth will not be able to take care of us.