As an anti-litter activist in Kenya, every time I see somebody litter, I have to talk to them about it. The conversation usually starts like this:
“Habari yako? Nimeona umetupa peel yako ya ndizi (ama chupa ama yoghurt) after umemalizia. Unaona kama umefanya kitu nzuri?
(English: Hello? I’ve seen that you’ve thrown away your banana peel (or soda bottle, yoghurt cup, etc.) after you’ve finished with it. Do you think what you’ve done is a good thing?)
In asking this question, I always make a point of personalizing it to address the litterer and make them own their actions. The response is always a strong ‘no’ by 9 out of 10 people. This ‘no’ is usually coupled by regret and a sense of shame. Regret because they know they could have done better and shame because they’ve been caught. While it’s not my intention to shame the litterer, the experience allows us to talk more about litter management, ending the conversation on a happy note.
While talking to people about littering, I advise them to hold on to their trash until they see a litter bin or to put it in their bag until they get home, where they can throw it in their household garbage bag. However, I have to admit that encouraging people to do this nowadays is becoming harder by the day because of two major reasons:
The silver lining in this conversations is that people know littering isn’t a good thing. They want to do the right thing but they can’t. There are no litter bins and the environment itself isn’t inspiring cleanliness.
It’s with this in mind that Mazingira Safi Initiative started a program that aims to keep the streets clean through regular litter removal and increase binfrastructure (street litter bins). This project is called Adopt A Road. The program invites businesses and organizations, institutions, groups of friends/volunteers to adopt litter bins and sections of the road, maintain their cleanliness in exchange for recognition. You can read more about it here.
I truly believe that there are business and organization leaders out there in this Nairobi that are able to adopt roads and bins. This will go a long way in reducing littering rates in Kenya. A clean environment hampers littering and litter bins offer an avenue for litter proper disposal. Moreover, these businesses and organizations, institutions, groups (now Adopters) will be able to brand themselves as environmentally conscious, something that the consumer of today is keen on.
I’m positive that Adopt A Road will make conversations and actions around litter education more impactful. Telling someone about littering will be easy. We’ll be able to match our words with actions.
I, therefore, take this opportunity to invite all of us to play our role in keeping our environment litter-free. If you want to adopt a road, write or call us. We have a list of roads that can be adopted. It won’t take long to see the impact of your adoption. You’ll be glad you became an Adopter. If you see a litter bin, use it. If you pass by a bin-less area, please leave it as you found it. Not dirtier 🙂