Beckles-Robinson calls for respect for the environment

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles, second from right, Venezuelan Ambassador Alvaro Cordero, third from right, and students from Bishop Anstey High School East remove gabage from the Foreshore, Cocorite, in observance of International Coastal Clean-Up Day. – SUREASH CHOLAI

PLANNING and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles-Robinson has called on the public to respect the environment and be wary when leaving garbage along shorelines.

At a beach clean-up along the Foreshore, off Audrey Jeffers Highway Cocorite, to commemorate International Coastal Clean-Up Day on Saturday, Beckles-Robinson said, “Think about the turtles they are basically swallowing bottles and plastic it means to say we need to think about our own health. This is a special call to persons who have developed a habit of coming to the sea to have a good time and don’t walk with garbage bags to properly dispose their trash.

“When we look at the data it tells us the millions of pounds that is collected every year, almost 80 per cent of it is going to be plastic and when you look at the analysis, it takes up to 10 years for a simple cigarette bud to be decomposed.”

The event was organised by the Planning and Development Ministry and supported by several other ministries and NGOs. Clean-up efforts started at 9.30 am, and lasted for hours as hundreds of volunteers removed TVs and other discarded furniture and appliances, and hundreds of plastic bottles and worn-out clothing trapped between stones and trees near the shore.

Beckles-Robinson added, “This exercise has been going on for about 20 years or more but I think ocean conservancy – the movement – has been going on for over 30 years.

“It’s disheartening when you came and see the environment looking like this. I want to make another plea, and send a reminder that we can decide as a nation when we come to our beaches they should be cleaned because it’s going to impact us all negatively.”

She said the Beverage Container Bill and Styrofoam Bill drafts have been completed and are closer to reaching Parliament for debate.

She said consultations on the styrofoam bill have been completed and a policy should be ready soon.

“A lot of it has to do with education and when we complete this exercise we are going to do the data analysis that would help with policy and legalisation.”

She hopes the country can get to a stage where citizens would not have to be supervised and encouraged to maintain and protect the environment.

“Until then, it has to be a combination of government policy, legalisation and supervision, but we know in most countries who have been successful, it is really because of the communities that have taken a personal responsibility for their spaces.”