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THINK BEFORE YOU TOSS - Mazingira Safi Initiative
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The world is a very small place. It is supposed to bring us close, closer to people and closer to things. It is so small that we ought to be wary of what we say, what we do, and how we interact with even the least thought of things; lest one day we meet when we least expected it, at a place we never thought of, and in a form we could hardly imagine. An encounter that might not be pretty.

Recently, I was sited in class, and in one of those moments where dons just like to digress off topic, my professor asked an obvious question, considering his audience was purely graduate students. A question that least makes you to doubt yourself, because you watch TV, read the papers and books, and you attend forums that help you to connect many dots in life; but a question that crosses the mind of very few and even among the few, the question is rarely answered with actions but only left to linger in the cognitive domain.

He asked, “When you buy a candy and decide to toss away the wrapper carelessly, where do you think it goes? Do you ever imagine that the two of you might meet one day but this second encounter might not act in your favor?”

He was obviously hinting at something that is not new, and even as he tried to explain it further, he still left it open and made us to rationalize it on our own, typical professorship. But I tried to be objective and to put myself in the shoes of that candy wrapper or litter for that matter. I decided to write an epitome that embodies the larger reality about litter. I simply decided to bring litter into life, give it a human face, and present it as below.

A lot has been said about me, but the cycle never seems to end. Stories after stories, nothing ever seems to change. You leave me in places where I am not supposed to be left. You drop me on the streets where council workers have just swept. You toss me out of your car windows, by the road side to stench. Even after seeing ‘no litter’ sign posts, your ignorance still remains at its best. I may be disgusting and useless, what do you expect? I am waste. What good can come out of me? I make a mess. But just make sure you put in the right place.

I understand candies appeal to your tastes When you are tired and hungry and all you want is to rejuvenate. I understand Nairobi does not have enough bins And you are always too anxious to get rid The burden of carry me around I understand that picnics are fun, when you hold them in public Parks You get to share memories that last, for a while, But you forget to care for the trash, you leave behind. I understand most Nairobi streets are dirty But it’s only fair if you simply do the right thing

You slap Mother Nature right on her face when you litter or leave me on the ground. It’s only a matter of time before she gets really mad and unleashes the wrath of an irate woman. A scene my eyes will honestly hate

But even now, I loathe seeing you and your brood fall ill I loathe contaminating aquifers and river streams I loathe making the air heavy for you to breath I just loathe when I see you walk on dirty streets Or see you sleep next to a pile of me

So, if you refuse to understand me I will be your worst nightmare. Trust me. If you ignore those litter bins, Or if you think you are too far from a bin, and decide to compromise, I will be your worst nightmare. Trust me. Worst all, if you decide to cut down trees thinking that I have nothing to do with it, I will join forces to be your ugliest nightmare. Trust me And that’s where we shall one day meet

But I want to save you a lot of trouble Put me in the right place and your brood, please disciple I also think you need to learn how to recycle It’s a ‘no brainer’, and you are not splitting an atom You are simply separating waste, something easy to fathom

So much for being in the shoes of a candy wrapper, but if litter was to think like this and everyone understands it, there would be a lot of justice on the streets of Nairobi. Nairobians would operate on a different tier. A tier of kusema na kutenda, for Mazingira Safi ni Jirani Mwema.


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