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Environmentalism or environment protection moment as we know it originates back to mid 19th century. In Great Britain in the year of 1863, a set of laws were passed to fight air pollution in the name of British Alkali acts. As we move on to the 20th century, the environmentalist movement became even more popular. This was around the time in which animal rights or wild life activism originated due to the impact caused by the extinction of passenger pigeons. President Woodrow Wilson of America and the Nazi Government of Germany was particularly active in this animal rights activism.
As far as environmentalism today goes, it is one of the most HIT topics of the day. There has been a startlingly great rise in the number of environmentalist activists fighting for this noble cause. People and NGOs, are making great efforts to conserve our ecology and even world governments are financing major environment protection projects to fight threats like global warming and ozone depletion.
While this is indeed, a pleasant improvement what I believe is true change can be brought by working at the root level. When we look at our country Maldives, being a collection of coral reef islands we might be one of the most environmentally challenged nation of the modern world. And while making the global world aware of our situation and persuading them to decrease major emissions from factories in order to decrease global warming and sea level rise would indeed help, there are some things we could do ourselves.
We could start simply by recycling our waste. Most of us on our way back from work or school, buy something to eat. Typically, the shopkeeper would give us whatever products it is in a plastic bag. We take our food out of the bag and throw the bag on the road. As we all know the blue or red plastic bags that we all use, is really light. If nothing inside it can fly really easily with the air. And sooner or later it ends up in our seas, in our beaches wrapping itself in the corals, the rocks, sea turtles even dolphins suffocating them and taking them to their death. And whats worse is plastic bags which contains of polyethene are non biodegradable and would take more than a thousand years to decompose. Are we ready to take the responsibility for the damage this would cause to our environment? Can’t we simply carry another bag made of a cloth which we can take whenever we go to a shop and even if it is a plastic bag, why cant we simply reuse the same plastic bag instead of throwing it. Atleast then, the number of waste plastic bags will decrease. I was present in the World Environment day rally of 2010 organized by MHTE last year June and I saw a clearly disturbing scene. People who were screaming for the rights of sea turtles and other creatures and our biodiversity were throwing empty plastic bags after eating pop corn into the street. Isn’t this hypocrisy?
A different but clearly related problem is waste disposal. We blame the government for not giving us a proper waste disposal system but what we must understand our leaders are also not miracle workers. Sure, they are flaws in the regulation of waste disposal in thilafushi but that system is also there. Then why cant we simply dispose our waste bag into the allocated place (Kuni gondu) so that it can properly be transported to thilafushi itself instead of dumping it across the corner in front of someone else’s house, polluting the air of the whole region? If you walk near the YDP stadium in Maafanu early in the morning you can literally count tens of garbage bags every other corner but people, the ‘Kuni Gondu’ is not even a five minute walk from there.
Another problem is cigarette butts. We might not notice in our everyday busy lives, but those who read this when you go out today into the street just stand in a public place in the road or near a park or near a traffic light and just look at the ground beneath your feet and just observe the number of cigarette butts. Research proves that cigarette butts take as long as nine to ten years to fully biodegrade and some researchers believe that these never really decompose. And the thing about cigarette butts in male’ is they normally find themselves into the gutter and in the long run back into our sea water making it toxin.
Guys, the truth of the matter is if there is a rally or a protest regarding the cutting of a certain old aged tree most of us ‘environmentalists’ would go there and scream our guts out but do we know how much we are damaging our environment by simple unhealthy habits like the few that I have listed above? A simple action like throwing away a cigarette butt or a plastic bag can cause a change reaction or a butterfly effect which might cause tones of suffering for our environment.