[Written by Jonathan Starling] It is not unusual to read and hear complaints about the amount of trash talk that the two main parties indulge, a phenomenon which seems to be magnified during election campaigns. And yet, seldom do these two parties actively seek to engage in real trash talk. And by that, I mean talking about trash in the literal sense! And yet the issue of trash and waste in general is one that affects us all, touching on matters of public health, social cohesion and tourism, amongst others!
And so, while I’m hoping to run a positive campaign, I am today going to engage in some real trash talk. And I hope that it helps encourage others to do the same!
Trash and how we deal with it have a number of hidden costs to our society. Once elected I will work with my fellow parliamentarians and civil society to develop and implement the following policies:
Implement a ‘bottle bill’ (beverage container deposit legislation) for glass and aluminium beverage containers.
Discarded glass and aluminium beverage containers constitute a public health threat through the breeding of mosquitoes, a risk of personal injury to the individual from sliced-up feet, a general unsightliness which may impact on our ‘Bermuda image’ for tourists, as well as often contributing to a blighted neighbourhood (encouraging more trash as well as a sense of social depression). They even pose a hazard for our endemic rock lizards (the skink)!
By implementing a beverage container deposit policy we may help reduce the above problems associated with discarded glass and aluminium containers by encouraging greater rates of recycling, making it less likely for individuals to simply ‘throw them in the bushes’. They work quite simply by requiring a small, refundable deposit on beverage containers. This deposit is paid when the container is purchased and refunded when the container is returned for recycling. Where bottle bills have been implemented they have been seen to greatly increase rates of recycling and reduce incidents of litter.
Implement a balloon bill to prohibit the sale of metallic (mylar) helium balloons and mass balloon releases.
While balloons seem relatively innocent to most individuals, the pose a deadly threat to many marine wildlife, especially whales and sea-turtles, and can also pose threats to overhead electricity lines. When balloons are released, they eventually return to earth, often (and almost always in Bermuda) into the oceans, where they are mistaken as food by whales and sea-turtles, contributing in many cases to deaths. Metallic balloons are particularly problematic for marine life, having a longer life-time than latex balloons, and mass balloon releases (for various ceremonies) is little different from dumping plastic bags into the oceans. If we want to promote a ‘green’ image and protect our marine environment, implementing a ‘ballloon bill’ is one step towards this.
Expand the fishing lines recycling initiative.
This is an initiative that has been pioneered by the Bermuda National Trust, with public financial assistance. It seeks to encourage the recycling of fishing lines at known fishing spots and public docks. Modern fishing lines, when discarded, pose a threat to marine life, particularly birds and sea-turtles, and may become entangled in them and become injured or drown. They also pose a threat to personal injury for humans who may also get caught up in these when wading or swimming. By expanding their locations and regularity of collection, we help the marine environment and benefit our tourism.
Convert to in-vessel composting at Pembroke Dump and develop a national composting strategy.
While Pembroke Dump has largely been replaced by the Tynes Bay Incinerator, it is still actively used for horticultural and other compostable waste. Waste is converted into compost there through an open air row and furrow system, which is unsightly, space and time-consuming and prone to both the release of odour and spontaneous combustion. By converting to the faster and less space-consuming in-vessel composting we reduce many of the social and public health impacts of the existing system, and lay the foundations for the restoration of the area into a public park.
And by encouraging domestic composting, through curb-side collection of non-animal food waste, we can contribute to reduced stress on the incinerator, as well as benefiting the island in the long-term through the production of local compost for agricultural use or for ecological restoration projects. It may involve a slight up-front cost to move to in-vessel composting, but the benefits to the surrounding neighbourhoods, the reduced costs of wear and tear for the incinerator, in my opinion far outweigh this cost!
Now, that’s real trash talk…
- Jonathan Starling will run as an Independent candidate in C#20 Pembroke South West in the upcoming General Election.