I was delighted to hear so much talk of “zero waste” and the need for more players to take up the recycling business at the Environmental Management Agency meeting I attended recently.
Although it might be a while before all of us finally realise that resources are fast running out and require that nothing goes to waste, at least there is now talk of reusing, reducing and recycling.
Evidence on the ground shows that people generally do not fancy the idea of reusing and would rather buy a bottle of jam, finish the contents, and throw away the empty bottle.
It does not seem to occur to many that if that same bottle could be washed up and used for, say, storing sugar, it would be a part played in saving the environment.
As for reducing, I have a feeling it would be a suggestion that many would not find very amusing.
The concept implies a cut on the amount of resources that one uses; from the type of clothes one wears right to the amount of food one consumes.
The amount of waste in the country points to very high consumer levels and excessive use of resources. This would explain why there is the growing belief that if people continued using resources at the current pace then there would be very little, if any, left for future generations.
Because there really is no telling when people will finally buy into the ideas of reusing and reducing, our best chance in Zimbabwe at the moment lies in recycling.
With the country currently struggling to manage its waste, the cities resemble dumping grounds.
The fact that the councils tasked with collecting refuse have not been doing very well has worsened the situation. Besides creating an eyesore, most of the waste carelessly disposed of has often found its way into our rivers and streams, causing a hazard.
Furthermore, waste left lying around for long periods, tends to leech toxins into the soil.
The council authorities have on a number of occasions admitted that waste management was becoming too overwhelming a task for them to tackle alone.
Zimbabwe is currently battling to contain a typhoid scourge that has of late ravaged the country, particularly people in high-density suburbs. Most people have blamed the disease on the filth that engulfs the nation and drinking contaminated water.
Of the recycling companies, like Harare Recycling, that has so far opened office, most are still operating at very low levels. I do not know of any company in Zimbabwe that currently recycles glass, or the widely used polystyrene plastics that make up most of the litter. If there are any that do, it has to be at very low hard-to-notice levels indeed.
One project that I however feel needs hailing would have to be the Arundel School recycling project, successfully launched last year by the school’s environment club, with help from Delta Beverages, among other sponsors.
The club recently held a fashion show in which girls modelled in outfits they made totally out of recycled material.
The school needs to be saluted as it has set a good precedence for other schools. I believe schoolchildren have the power to spread awareness to family and friends faster.
Hopefully, neighbourhoods will soon join the war to fight environmental degradation. I hope we will soon see recycling being taken up at a much larger scale.