By: David Arome
Plastic pollution stands as a global menace, constituting a pressing threat to the ecosystem. In Nigeria, plastic waste dominates streets, roads, and markets, delivering far-reaching consequences that are painfully evident to all.
The issue of plastic pollution is not just a local concern; it’s gaining global attention as Nigeria grapples with this environmental health threat. Worldwide, approximately 400 million tons of plastic waste are generated annually, equivalent to 12 tons per second.
Nigeria, alarmingly, contributes to this crisis, producing around 2.5 million tons of plastic waste each year, ranking among the world’s top ten contributors to plastic pollution. Shockingly, about 88% of this plastic waste finds its way into rivers, oceans, and lakes worldwide.
The cool, serene atmosphere that comes when it rains turns out to be an unforgettable ordeal for residents in Maraba, ravaged by plastic pollution. The devastating effects occasioned by plastic pollution when it rains have thrown the people into perpetual fear and worry with the wanton wreak it has on the environment and health of the community residents.
For fifteen-year-old Mary Onuh and her family in Maraba, Nasarawa State, rainy days bring sorrow. A heavy downpour resulted in flooding, leaving plastic waste strewn about their environment and their family home in ruins. Mary couldn’t hold back tears as she recounted her family’s ordeal.
Plastic pollution’s impact has been festering across various facets, spanning health, environment, and the climate ecosystem. Plastic waste dumps now harbor rats and mosquitoes, posing public health threats. Burning plastic waste as an alternative, unfortunately, emits harmful gases, including dioxin, linked to diseases such as cancer, hormonal imbalances, and immune system damage.
On the environmental front, littered streets and indiscriminate plastic disposal block waterways, leading to floods and property damage. Burning plastic also releases toxins that contaminate underground water sources. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has highlighted the threat posed to marine biodiversity by plastic waste entering oceans, carrying toxic contaminants and invasive species.
The pervasive littering of plastic waste reflects a broken waste management system, rapid population growth, bustling commercial activities, and high daily plastic waste generation.
In her mission to reshape the plastic pollution narrative, Mary joined her school’s climate advocacy club. Equipped with climate advocacy skills, she began educating her community on climate literacy, climate change impacts, and strategies to combat plastic pollution.
Mary’s actions are transforming Maraba, with people embracing responsible waste disposal, avoiding littering, and adopting new norms. Environmental and waste management authorities have taken note, ensuring prompt waste collection, creating a cleaner, safer, and more hospitable community.
Local climate action is pivotal in fostering a sustainable, eco-friendly environment. It fosters positive attitudes, behaviors, and practices to safeguard our ecosystem.
The time for action is now; we must rally to protect our planet. It’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain a clean, safe, and healthy environment.