By Emeka Nwokocha
Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI), in partnership with Green Knowledge Foundation, on Wednesday 31, marked this year’s World Environment Day at Ugbuwangue Secondary School, Warri.
Speaking to the students, the Executive Director of DICI, Dr. Rachael Misan-Ruppee, said that the one-day event was an environmental awareness engagement with the students on how to properly dispose plastic waste in order to protect the environment from pollution and make it safe for habitation, noting that plastic waste is non biodegradable pollutant that poses serious harm to the environment.
Continuing, she said that the theme of the event, “The Role of Young People for a Plastic-Free Future,” under the campaign ‘#BeatPlasticPollution,’ is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matter, saying that, “There is urgent need to make the environment safe for all, in line with the main goal of SDG 12 which emphasizes responsible consumption and production.”
She further stated, “To find a lasting solution to the adversities of plastic pollution, we’re engaging with the youth through the ‘Environmental Club’ in Ugbuwangue Secondary School, Warri to bring a generational change in the way we consume and dispose of plastic.”
She added, “Through this programme, we’re inspiring them to be at the forefront of the movement of raising awareness in the society and inciting change for responsible plastic consumption and disposal.”
Speaking at the event, Margaret Arukeke, representative of the HOD, Environment, Warri South Local Government Council, Stella Mode, tasked residents of Warri South Local Government Area on proper management of plastic waste, urging them to comply with the measures put in place by the government to ensure proper disposal of wastes.
She however, expressed concern about flagrant violation of environmental laws resulting in indiscriminate dumping of plastic and other wastes in drainage systems thus blocking free flow of water, stressing that such infractions would not be tolerated by the government any further.
She said, “Vast majority of plastic does not biodegrade,” adding that improper disposal of plastic generates greenhouse gases and hazardous waste, just as it often breaks down into very small fragments called microplastics that can pollute ecosystems, harm organisms, and create intense health hazards and environmental threats to humans.
Continuing, she charged the students of Ugbuwangue Secondary School and members of the Environmental Club to take the lead in raising awareness on proper disposal and management of plastic waste through recycling or turning the waste into wealth.
Also speaking, Hon. Elete Omawumi, Supervisor on Environment, Warri South Local Government Council, representing the Chairman of the Council, Hon. Dr. Michael Tidi, sensitised the students on proper waste management mechanisms, such as waste segregation – sorting and separation of waste types, recycling, and incineration – burning of wastes (conducted in an incinerator).
He tasked the students to promote the vision and mission of the Environmental Club which is targeted at protecting the environment from pollution.
Delivering a keynote address, tagged, “The Role of Young People in a Plastic-Free Future,” Mrs. Victoria Jarikre, emphasized the importance of a safe environment on the wellbeing of the society. She identified different types of plastic wastes to include bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, and take-out containers, stating that proper management and disposal of plastic is germane in protecting the environment from further harm. She charged the students to engage in awareness raising on the dangers of plastic Pollution, volunteer in school and Community clean up exercise to rid the environment of plastic and other pollutants.
The principal of Ugbuwangue Secondary School, Mrs. Morrison Merry Jemiyotan, commended DICI and Green Knowledge Foundation for organizing the programme in the school, promising that the school’s Environmental Club would be given full support to make it function optimally and make huge impact in management of wastes and protection of the environment from pollution.
The Director, Post Primary Education Board Zonal Office, Warri, Mrs. P.O. Onorien-Arawore, commended the organizers of the programme and encouraged the students to make good use of the knowledge they gained from the programme and commit themselves to promoting the campaign against plastic pollution in the society.
Speaking to journalists, the president of Ugbuwangue Secondary School Environmental Club, Master Destiny Erewa, said he would put more effort to ensure the club achieves its objective through sustained collaboration of the students and members of the school’s Environmental Club.