When I woke up this morning, I didn’t expect so much had changed overnight, while you were feting, sleeping or hoping for the explosion of far-too-many fireworks to be over.
With Section 34-esque timing and secrecy, a technically sound, politically unfettered cross-ministry team initiated a well-funded, national recycling programme. For what kind of small islands government shrugs at the unregulated garbage filling fields, forests, drains, rivers and coasts, has no mass education programme on waste reduction, and can’t yet stem the rising tide of disposed plastic everything?
No more will garbage be collected by just anyone with an extra truck, Hilux or party contact, and then dumped, well, anywhere. From today, a package of farsighted regulations, services, incentives and information will make us all grow up and stop selfishly leaving our children’s grandchildren to decry our thoughtlessness about what we buy and how much toxicity we put out at our gate.
Indeed, Blue Waters now lets you return all your empty bottles. Massy Stores and other groceries have stopped wrapping every sweet potato, beetroot and cabbage in plastic and Styrofoam, and customers will give you cold cut-eye for not re-using plastic and cloth bags.
This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year won’t be the guy who excelled at taking over-priced all-inclusives on the road, but the citizen whose big idea generated the least garbage or the company whose accounts show financial responsibility for the waste created by their products, rather than relying on us to subsidize their books to public disadvantage.
As you read, Poui trees are being replanted along every possible by-way and highway, for the happiness-seeking souls in the Ministry of Transport remembered how those dry season flowers lifted the spirits of those stuck in traffic, carrying home road rage, or without air-conditioning.
Ordinary civil servants’ concerns about the desperate need for more shade for those walking, timely, safe and sufficient public transportation for those traveling, bicycle options for day and night in cities and towns, and green interventions to urbanization were, late last night, finally understood by Cabinet to be about widespread quality of life, not environmental elitism.
Similar intentions blossomed in the Forestry Division, whose 2015 motto is ‘Forestry Multiplication’ and whose radical target is to prevent hillsides from being illegally quarried or clear-cut and, finally, washed away as a flood of mud.
So inspired were those in the Ministry of Planning that they immediately scrapped as many metres of concrete as they could from the popularly-distrusted ‘development’ plans for Invader’s Bay, instead prioritizing mangroves, indigenous trees, biodiversity, and low impact, low-cost fun for citizens, particularly children from our poorest communities. Their new piece-de-resistance is a Minshall-dreamt Red Square of 144 flamboyant trees, more alive, more revolutionary and more sustainable than any paved-over Russian equivalent, showing an ability to apply our Carnival mastery to making “living works of art”.
For once, this election year, recycling will not just occur within and among political parties while, from education to economic inequality to national budgeting to our health system, candidates fall far short of “powerful, liberatory ideas that raise our pores and imagination”, to quote my bredren columnist Colin Robinson.
I woke up this morning amazed to be suddenly beyond our non-functioning state institutions, corrupt elites, short-term hopes, acceptance of violence, unequal rights, excess in the name of culture, and reluctance to measure our individual worth beyond a box of dead. Overnight, truthful leadership became accountable, and civic organizing appeared collective, fearless and committed to our own power and care.
If this was true, and it can be, this would be a genuinely new day to a new year.