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Writer : Dorcas Lungashi Kidaka

The generation that destroys the environment , is not the generation that pays the ultimate price.”

These great words by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, always serves as a constant reminder that mother nature needs to be cared for. During the pandemic, it was noted that there was a decrease in waste production. As the world cautiously gets back to its usual routine having adapted to the new normal, one can only wonder if this will negatively affect the environment. Waste management is a vital process for any manufacturing plant. Individuals need to also take full responsibility and ensure that they dispose off waste consciously. If only everybody could take personal initiative then the Oceans and Lakes would have less waste to deal with. Irresponsible dumping of waste of any kind leads to environmental degradation that affects humanity in general.

Plastic waste is a virus that has attacked mother nature since time in memorial. Millions of plastic bottles are produced by various companies with the aim of using them to package soft drinks , water and dairy products. Fact is that plastics are vital as a packaging material for some companies. These companies should also be in the frontline to ensure that waste generated from use of their products is managed effectively. My country Kenya , has over one thousand well established brands for water and soft drink bottlers. The disappointing fact is that only a few of them even take rational steps to waste management. The Nairobi river , has suffered immensely due to this neglect.The government should put in place and implement laws that ensure these bottling companies take responsibility for secondary waste.

In Kenya , we have a body tasked with the responsibility to ensure the conservation of our environment. The National Environment Management Authority {NEMA}.Everyday , I witness irresponsible dumping of plastic waste. On a hot sunny day , it’s normal to observe passengers buying cold bottled water to quench their thirst. After the bottle has served its purpose , they are subconsciously dumped across the window of moving vehicles. This dumped plastic wastes eventually end up in rivers and clog sewage systems. If we are to effectively care for the environment , then we have to ensure that plastic waste is properly disposed.

Machakos County is found in the Eastern side of Kenya. The region mainly experiences hot and wet climate. In Muthwani constituency , there’s a seasonal river known as River.Muthwani. Due to frequent water shortages , the residents depend on water bottling companies to provide them with clean drinking water as the region mainly has saline water. After making observations in Muthwani ward , my home , I noticed that during the dry season , a lot of plastic bottles are dumped in the river. When eventually the rainy season starts , the dumped bottles make the river look unsightly and some of it is washed away to nearby , Ruai Sewarage System. This causes an overall blockage in the system which comes back to affect the residents.

During the lockdown period for the Corona Virus Pandemic , I was able to convince my siblings to join me in collecting plastics from the river. Since I had learned via YouTube the process of making liquid detergent , I intended to  recycle plastic bottles by using them to package the liquid detergent. My siblings were not very enthusiastic about the idea but I was able to lead by example and teach them them importance of environmental conservation. I suggested that we even tag ourselves “The Siblings For Change “. This title was able to get them excited and ready to serve. I was aware that our efforts was just like a drop in the ocean but nevertheless I was determined to make a change as we were “The Siblings For Change”.

Our first trip was an eye opener. We woke up early so that we could achieve our purpose before the scorching sun hit us. We ensured that we had our masks on and carried adequate hand sanitizers. The previous day , I had been able to borrow some gloves from my father’s shop which would protect us from unseen germs. We put on gumboots to protect our feets and quickly headed to the river for our task. As expected , the river was dry as it was the dry season. We carefully collected the plastic bottles and stored them in our sisal bags. We caught the attention of children in the neighborhood, who asked as various questions concerning the environment. My heart leaped with joy as I watched my younger brother explain to his friends the importance of caring for the environment. We were able to cover part of the river , since our sisal bags were full , we decided to head back home and start the recycling process.

Once at home , we washed the bottles and the caps using soap and warm water. We arranged them on a mat and left them to dry, ready for packaging. Since we had not eaten yet , we decided to take our breakfast as we await to package the liquid detergent. The process was enlightening , we were able to sell the detergent to our consumers and inform them about the importance of conserving the environment. Our business plan included a mandatory five percent discount to clients who come back to buy the detergent with the bottle they previously had used. This would ensure that we minimise waste and care for the river in my village.

We are the change we want. Conserving the environment starts at a personal level and I am determined to be part of the change. The courage protrayed by the “Siblings For Change” gives me the confidence to keep on caring for the environment.

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