The use of polythene bags was adopted in the early 1960s as a solution for packaging goods in various places. However, after some decades, it became a disaster due to poor and careless disposal by users, leading to contamination of water sources. That resulted in risking the aquatic ecosystem and also the general environment.
Careless disposal of used polythene bags by burning resulted in dark smoke causing environmental pollution. It interfered with the Ozone layer (O3), letting ultraviolet rays, which damage the skin and cause global warming.
Dumping of the used bags clogged waterways and ended up in the stomachs of animals and even humans, killing them. Therefore, by 2017, the use of polythene bags was banned in a bid to stop the massive environmental damage observed then. By 2022, Kenya and Rwanda were lauded as among the cleanest nations.
My worry is, we have taken too long to celebrate the historic feat. That has seen us reverse the gains back to the ‘60s. The widespread use of polythene bags wrappers is back. Various marketplaces, sugar companies, bakers and others still use polythene to pack their products. So, what happened? Was the ban lifted?
Environmental agencies, starting with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), must up their game, not only by words but also by action to counter the effects of environmental degradation that leads to adverse climate change impacts.
Advocate personal integrity. If all of us can observe that, hence personal responsibility, environmental conservation will be achieved because it will be out of passion and interest in ending environmental pollution.
Lastly, it’s all about knowing what we want as a nation. If it’s to conserve the environment, let all do so. It should not be that while some conserve the environment others pollute it. Let’s make Kenya green together.
Tonny O. Blair, Migori