I barely believed in global warming because I felt the world remained as it was centuries ago, and that the earth was still rotating on its axis and revolving round the sun. I had become used to seeing rainfall in March and ‘August Break’ in August.
In the last three years, my persuasion no longer hold water as the weather has become even more unpredictable. For example, it could be very sunny and humid and in a few moments, rain clouds gather resulting in heavy downpour. Finally, I understood the concept of global warming. In a nutshell, millions of people globally are contributing daily to the depletion of the ozone layer (including Nigeria), through activities like burning fossil fuel and refuse.
When I was younger, trips to the village were exciting. It was stirring mingling with peers, listening to folktales and playing the local games that were not toys and teddies. My memories also include the usual sanitation ritual my aunty executed with Saturday weekly precision. She would gather the refuse for that week and burn it. It wasn’t just our compound but other homes do this as well, some more regularly than others. In the evenings, we would see thick smoke wafting over the once peaceful horizon of the village. Our clothes and our bodies will stink of smoke. The air would seem to clear, but alas what was normal for the ozone would have been slightly shifted, another point for global warming. Yes, I believe that somehow, the air was contaminated.
This practice isn’t just common in the villages but in the urban areas too, like Lagos. Generally, it’s a normal practice in Nigeria to burn refuse at home.
Over the years, a lot of water has gone under the bridge and companies have sprung up with the ‘pick your dirt services and we dispose it for you’ system. Some people have embraced it while a larger number haven’t; perhaps because of the high cost and inconvenience.
I remember visiting another aunty I hadn’t seen in ages and behold the garbage in her kitchen, not one but three litter bags! She was quick to respond, “I’m hardly around and most times when these refuse people come to pick it, I’m not here and you know I live alone”. “Please later in the evening, help me burn it”, she added. Clearly, she didn’t find the service convenient.
Online Litter picker! I jumped out of bed and opened my notepad to write the idea before it gets lost in the sea of ideas, just like the others that have gone because I hadn’t taken note. I had been lying lazily on my bed thinking of how to solve the waste problem because asides the smell, our health and environment are at risk of depletion.
An example of an online litter picker can be found here www.litterpicker.com (although it’s for commercial and industrial use); my idea of online litter picker will be for individual use. On the website, a simple interface is provided where you can fill in your details. Next, you’ll be directed to a payment portal where you can select a convenient payment plan.
In my case, the options will be weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. The online payment makes it easy for people with busy schedules to subscribe. Discounts will be made available for loyal customers and people who sort their waste into different litter bags of recyclable, non-recyclable and organic. Customers will simply dump the refuse in a neatly tied bin bag outside their home or office for pick up.
The economic downturn in the country has led to high rate of unemployment, and to make ends meet, some people result to doing odd jobs like pushing wheel barrows on the streets to carry load for a token. Litter picker will engage their services.
The wheel barrow pushers will go to customers’ homes, shops, etc. to ask for any refuse for disposal. Government intervention will be required to provide litter bags at a cheap rate to litter picker which will be given to the pushers for distribution in the communities. In the situation where Government intervention is not possible, partners and sponsors will be needed to ensure sustainability of the project. Litter picker will meet with the Local Government Chairperson and village heads to explain why the old practices need to be abolished. A town hall meeting will then be organized where the people will be sensitized. Here, they will be informed of a reward system put in place by litter picker for people who sort their waste and give to the wheel barrow pushers. The reward could range from cash prize at the end of the year to the best person or house as the case may apply or provision of some basic farm tools.
The success of the litter picker will largely depend on the rural communities because they require more sensitization, therefore, the sensitization will concentrate in the local communities.
Before hiring the wheel barrow pushers, a background check will be done for security reasons and to ensure the safety of customers. The first one year of operation in the rural areas will be free in order to gain their interest and trust with the aim of encouraging them to adopt the new system of waste disposal. Therefore, litter picker will cover the cost by using the money generated from the urban dwellers who can afford more.
In the end, the recycled products will be sold at affordable rates. With litter picker, Nigerians can breathe a cleaner air and live a healthier and happy life.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Refuse: all non-hazardous solid waste from a community that requires collection and transport to a disposal site (from Britannica).
August Break: a short dry season in August lasting 2-3 weeks.
Image Credit: The Guardian Nigeria