In the Nigerian context, improper waste disposal has become synonymous with the urban experience over the years.
A random drive or stroll, especially during the rainy season, is incomplete without sights of assorted waste in drainages and on the roads. It is a helpless watch, because where will one begin to clean up the mess?
A rise in the urban population invariably leads to more urban waste. Mr. Tunji Bello, Lagos State’s Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources had disclosed in the second quarter of 2021.
According to the commissioner, Lagos yields more than 14,000 metric tonnes of waste daily.
While recent statistics are in short supply for other urban areas in the country, the World Bank has reported that a Nigerian produces roughly 0.51 kilogrammes of waste daily.
Nigeria’s waste generation figures do not seem to be dropping anytime soon. Whether the government adopts better large-scale waste disposal means or capitalises on the waste itself, the citizens have a civic responsibility to ensure a clean and healthy environment.
On a micro level, citizens should endeavour to use refuse cans and waste disposal bins at all times. It is non-negotiable, because so many citizens treat this responsibility with levity. We see it in our commercial buses when someone consumes a light snack and tosses out the wrapper through the window. We see people kick plastic bottles into drainages. In academic settings, empty and semi-empty food packs are a regular feature on desks and floors. Parties need no introduction, especially when clean-up does not ensue early enough.
Given the amount of waste Nigeria generates, it is only proper for citizens to mitigate communicable diseases and the scale of flooding by making good use of waste disposal bins. Where there are multiple bins which specify the kind of waste people should dispose therein, people should adhere to such. Cans should not sorted with paper and so on.
On a macro level, citizens can take things a notch higher by volunteering. There are multiple local initiatives committed to actualising a cleaner environment, especially in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. These initiatives often organise clean-ups of certain streets and localities, especially on Saturdays. The work is unattractive and strenuous, but poor waste disposal habits by citizens are even less fashionable. One can join these activities, donate to the cause or amplify the message of proper waste disposal during social media campaigns.
Ultimately, we are responsible for the quality of our environment and the overall quality of life we live. The above proffered steps may mean little in the long-run, but we owe it to posterity nonetheless.