Here in Maldives there is no proper waste management, as a result, the majority of waste and plastics are burned in the open, which releases toxic fumes that can cause respiratory problems in humans.
Poorly managed waste is rapidly affecting the marine ecosystem and our environment. A lot of waste is produced from our own island, Naifaru (a local island in Maldives), however there are also plastics and debris brought in by the tides.
In Naifaru, waste is collected and placed in landfill on one point of the island. Although types of waste are sorted into different categories, the only disposal option in the Maldives is to burn it. Not only does these release pollutants into the air which is harmful for humans, but it can also negatively impact the marine environment and cause serious harm to the animals and ecosystems that exist within it.
When asked "What do you think the hardest thing to deal with concerning waste management on Naifaru?" a survey of grade 9 science class students of Madharasathul Ifthithaah said having “no proper waste management”, “habits”, and “attitude” were the hardest aspects to deal with.
Many people, in my opinion, find it too corny and embarrassing to take action to protect our environment. If people start using reusable bags instead of plastic bags to shop, others will be inspired to do the same. Even when we try to educate the locals on how they can reduce their plastic usage, they almost always overlook us. As a result, I believe it is critical that leaders take action so that others can follow in their footsteps.
It is very common for people on local islands, to receive short eats in a plastic bag, however we should request that they bring their own reusable container instead. I believe we should encourage customers to always bring their own reusable bag or container and refrain from selling plastic bags all together. This would significantly reduce the amount of plastic used on Naifaru, lowering the amount of waste found on our island.
At Atoll Marine Centre, we strive to educate the local community to the best of our ability about marine conservation and environmental issues facing the Maldives. Therefore, we do a lot of community outreach, such as the marine school holiday program, teaching in local schools, hosting Lhaviyani Turtle Festival and much more. We also conduct beach cleans with the local children so that they can develop a desire to protect the environment and learn how to care for it.
The president of the Maldives recently announced that starting in April 2023, they will charge 2MVR for a plastic bag. However, this is not likely to prevent people from using plastic bags. The government can only do so much to combat this problem. However, as Maldivians, we must carry out our responsibilities and keep the Maldives clean and safe for all.
If you want to help the waste management problem, you can do the following:
· Use reusable bottles
· Use reusable bags
· Use containers when buying take-away food
· Avoid fast fashion
· Conduct beach clean ups
· Try to use less plastic
· Sort inorganic and organic wastes
· Create your own compost which can be used to grow fruits and vegetables
Written by: Rasheedhath Anum