Last week I had the honour of participating at the New Fire Festival, a zero-waste eco friendly event held right here in Trinidad and Tobago every year and was the facilitator for one of their workshops. The topic was Sustainable living and although I was really excited at sharing with those present, it did cause me to step back and think a bit – is this possible in my own country?
I’ve seen it time and time again on videos making its way around on Facebook and really admired the work happening in other parts of the world but can we, in my twin island republic, do it?
And the answer I got was a resounding yes! We have accomplished a lot as a country; from moving from dial up to high speed internet (I still remember the sound it made :-), from wooden buildings to modern architecture as evidenced by the towers on our City waterfront and an achievement I am proud to boast about – our 1st Female President, Her Excellency Ms. Paula Mae Weekes. Our present government has put forward Vision 2030 – where one of the themes focuses on placing the environment at the centre of social and economic development which in my opinion is a long way from where we started so the possibilities are there and happening.
For me, connecting with the environment either through hikes, just sitting on park benches and relaxing or the feel of the clear water on my skin always resonated with me. It’s like it was a part of my genetic makeup and that connection is so crucial with changing behaviours too. We have to feel like we are a part of something bigger than who we are and to reach someone else as well. Can you relate?
Sustainable living is not only great for the environment but it also has other advantages. For instance, cost savings on purchases and your bills, a reduction in waste generated which means less going to our nation’s landfills because the fact remains that over 700,000 tonnes of waste end up in our landfills daily and 85% of that is RECYCLABLE!!! So we must start practicing and I mean truly practicing the 3 R’s in that order – REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE! At its core though is a change in our mindset (thinking) and dare I add a cultural switch.
So how can you begin to live sustainably? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Compost, compost, compost! Over 28% of the recyclable portion of our waste is organic so food waste, grass cuttings, twigs can all be composted. Just this action alone, reduces the waste you generate at home by over 50%. (We’ll be having a workshop soon so keep posted to our Facebook page)
- Say NO to single use plastics – no more straws, coffee cups, cutlery and YES to reusable containers! (Try taking a container with you when buying your lunch and let me know how that goes…)
- Take reusable shopping bags when going grocery shopping
- Pay attention to your purchasing choices and look for items with the least packaging (hopefully they are the cheapest too..)
- Use biodegradable cleaning products or make your own using vinegar for instance
- Remember to take your reusable water bottles with you
- Recycle Paper and those beverage containers! (Plastic bottles, cans, glass and tetrapaks)
- Join our Naked Fruit campaign where we advocate for the removal of packaging on our fruits and vegetables displayed on grocery/supermarket shelves
- Buy local – this simple choice helps save energy too.
- Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, turn off electronics when not in use and take shorter showers.
Don’t get overwhelmed! You can start with just one of these items and as you get comfortable, add more. We also have a Paper Recycling programme for homes and businesses here in Trinidad so send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Feel free to leave yourself reminders along the way as well. Remember it is not always about doing things better, but sometimes we simply need to do better things!