Justine Katusiime, 2018 Re!gnite Africa Fellow

The environment is very precious and vital to the wellbeing of us all, and whether you like it or not, everything that you consciously or unconsciously do affects the environment and hence all those around you. Environmental consciousness is a responsibility for each one of us. It requires us to protect and conserve the land, water and air for present and future generations.

This comes down to changing our lifestyles for example how waste/rubbish is generated, how much is generated, how this volume can be continually reduced to how we dispose of it. Waste generated can be categorised as biodegradable or non-bio-degradable some of which may be toxic or non-toxic.

The biodegradable waste, including but not limited to; fresh food peelings, leftover food, has a lesser impact on the environment since it easily undergoes decay. This waste can be used as manure in gardens, some creative individuals have devised means of generating energy from the waste in the form of briquettes used for cooking. However, if not well handled can result into foul smell in the environment.

The non-biodegradable waste such as polythene bags, plastic, has a more complex inorganic chemical structure and does not decay. This pauses the gravest harm to our environment and if not carefully handled will distort the environment for many years to come. We surely are charged with the responsibility of avoiding the use of polythene bags (Tuve ku Kaveera!).

These can be substituted with the disposable paper bags. And for cases where this is not feasible, re-use a polythene bag instead of getting a fresh one for each round of shopping. We should also properly dispose of plastics especially the mineral water bottles.

Please, let us avoid this bad habit of dumping mineral water bottles on the streets, in the taxis and dispose them in clearly designated areas.

On a lighter note, plastics can be burned under controlled laboratory conditions and fuel generated to run generators and motorcycles and, in a way, reducing their impact on the environment. Avoid burning of the plastics in the open as this releases toxic fumes into the air. Hazardous waste can be disposed of in a land fill where it can be handled by experts.

I cannot talk about environmental consciousness and fail to mention the go green campaign. Let us all try as much as we can to avoid cutting trees but where we fail to comply please cut one tree, plant two!

Always remember that “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”- Warren Buffet.

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