Editorial comment | The threat to the environment

A stock image of a fish swimming in plastic-infested water.ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

In a statement titled ‘A ticking bomb’ Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has warned that we are being inundated by a surging wave of extremely dangerous plastic pollution that continues to gather strength.

In his message for World Environment Day today, Mr Rabuka said it adds to other environmental woes endangering our very existence in the Pacific’s ocean realm.

“The threat is so real that dealing with it is the main theme for the 2023 World Environment Day,” he said.

There have been serious concerns for some time about the impact of used plastic, he said.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he said, believes the global community faces a crisis of plastic pollution.

He noted that French President Emmanuel Macron described this as a “ticking time bomb”.

The irony in all this, he said, was that plastic was a great invention for the service of humanity.

He highlighted the fact that it still plays an important role as a flexible, light weight and durable material useful in daily life and in the consumer and industrial economies.

“Now, through the law of unintended consequences, it is also an enemy of our civilization,” he said.

Sounding a warning about the damage pollution could do to our food chain, he said a study found 68 per cent of fish in the Suva coastal area contained microplastics.

The Founder of the Pacific Recycling Foundation and CEO of Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited, Amitesh Deo said every Fijian has the right to a clean and healthy environment as enshrined in the Fijian constitution, however, this right is being breached on a daily basis because of large amounts of waste dumped in our environment – on roadsides, drains, picnic spots, and stadiums where we are hosting teams from overseas.

He said most recently, their staff found urine-filled bottles on the roadside.

Littering is a filthy habit that is wide-spread.

Many of us have a no-care attitude when it comes to littering. In fact we seem to have developed a habit that has become a part of our lives.

People are still spitting out chewing gum, disposing of their cigarette butts indiscriminately, throwing out plastic food containers and utensils wherever they want to, and they do the same with their used water or soft drink bottles, and plastic bags among other things.

Our beaches are filled with discarded waste, including plastic, old tyres, and used cans to name a few.

Laws are in place to curb this filthy habit. Being effective though will come down to how well people who are designated to do so, police them. But we all have a responsibility to do the right thing as well.

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

We should be looking after our environment. We should be proud of it and embrace what we have. Let’s start by taking the initiative to stop littering as individuals.

Get the message out. Stop littering! We acknowledge Fijians who take the initiative to keep their environment clean. Thank you!

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