Kenyan students pledge to #BeatPlasticPollution

By Titus Murithi

The Nkabune Technical Training Institute environment club students from North Imenti in Meru County, Kenya were thunderstruck to learn that it is very unhealthy to use polythene plastic bags and other plastic products – both for themselves, and their environment.

The students also learnt that since 1974, every June 5th marks World Environment Day (WED), the main purpose of which is to create worldwide awareness about the environment and take action to conserve and protect it.

We discussed at length the increased intake of food covered in unnecessary plastic packaging, especially single-use plastic – which is used for a matter of minutes but devastates ecosystems for hundreds of years.

This was in line with yesterday’s theme of ‘Beating Plastic Pollution’, and I spent World Environment Day with the same environment club that I celebrated Africa Day with.  It was the first time that the students commemorated this day of worldwide conservation awareness and action.

The environment club students proudly present African Climate Reality Project posters on World Environment Day.
Our Africa, our future.

We kicked off the ‘awareness’ section of the day and I gave the students a presentation on the negative impact of plastics and polythene bags to human, animal and plant life.

I explained to the students that plastic products and polythene bags are non-biodegradable or because they are manufactured using synthetic material.  Once they are thrown away and not disposed of properly they end up polluting the environment.

Because plastics and polythene bags are non-decomposing waste they are strewn nearly everywhere within our immediate environment and it’s the major reason why we find them in our compounds, streets, drainage systems, fence-lines, backyards, water sources, dumping sites, grazing fields – literally everywhere. I gave them examples of the non-biodegradable wastes as follows:

  • Plastic containers e.g. water bottles, soda bottles, cosmetic bottles, soda & beer crates
  • Plastic utensils e.g. plates, cups, spoons, flasks, basins, jugs, combs, pegs, dishes, buckets, baskets
  • Nylon products e.g. tethers and ropes
  • Plastic furniture
  • Foot wear e.g. slippers, plastic shoes, shoe soles, gumboots,
  • Rubber products e.g. old motor vehicle tyres and tubes
  • Plastic bodies of e-waste like radios, TV’s, computers, cameras, cassettes, phones, calculators, chargers
  • Some vehicle parts e.g. batteries, dashboards, bumpers, side mirrors
  • Big plastic containers e.g. water tanks, buckets
  • Polyester clothing e.g. socks, shirts, trousers,
  • Plastic stationery e.g. rulers, ball pens, felt pens

I pointed out to them that within Meru town the most plastic and polythene bag polluted areas are the slums, which include Shauri-yako, Majengo, Mjini, Salama and Makutano shopping centre. In a small slum called Kaithe there are numerous dumping sites and the area is exploding with irresponsibly disposed plastic products and all sorts of other non-biodegradable waste. This extends all the way to the source of river Ngachiuma which is just nearby.

Unfortunately we were not able to do our planned plastic clean-up because it was raining terribly.  Luckily the great thing about taking action for the environment is that it does not need to be on a special occasion like World Environment Day, and the students have decided to organise to do their plastic clean-up around a small shopping centre in our neighbourhood during one of their next environment club meetings.  The students further said they’ll organise to talk about the negative impacts of plastic pollution to the pupils of nearby primary and high schools.

Photography: Titus Murithi