Jesuit Memorial College held a student panel discussion titled “JMC and the Environment: Challenges, Prospects and Roadmap” on Monday 18 November 2019. The aim was to see how JMC, as a community and as individuals, affects the environment and what it can do to protect it. The discussion lasted for about an hour.
The panelists, all of whom are JMC students, agreed that we humans are the main factors responsible for the destruction of the environment. They linked destruction of the environment particularly to our lifestyles. They went on to identify some things JMC can do to improve the environment: they mentioned proper disposal of waste, minimizing wastage and sensitizing others on the need to protect the environment. They commended the school for steps already taken to protect the environment such as organizing the panel discussion, discouraging wastage and recycling. The panelists concluded that we all need to protect the environment and pass it on in good shape to future generations. The audience, comprising all the students, agreed.
People tend to blame environmental degradation on industries on the grounds that they generate most of the pollutants. However, we must also look at the people whose needs and wants the industries are satisfying. Industries do not produce for production sake; they produce to sell to consumers. From this perspective, consumers (that is, you and I) are responsible for the drain on the environment. We must therefore first look at our own lifestyles and demands before blaming countries and industries for the declining state of the planet.
Anyone who doubts the impact of individual consumers on producer-decisions should take a look at the American market where, according to Nielsen (an American research and statistics company), 73% of millennials – that is, a majority of the world’s working population – are willing to spend more on eco-friendly goods than on other goods. This has led companies like Coca-Cola and the College Board to produce using environmentally sustainable methods only. This large number of consumers obviously did not meet to agree to buy eco-friendly goods only. The number is as a result of individuals deciding to use their purchasing power to help the planet.
Citizens of certain countries have shown some initiatives in view of protecting their environment. This can hardly be said of Nigerian consumers. For a proof, one needs only look at what our demand for plastic and other petroleum-based products have done to the streets of Lagos and Ogoni land, among others. The fact is that our nonchalant attitude towards environmental conservation cannot continue or we may soon find ourselves in a country too damaged by pollution to support our needs. We cannot wait for the government to solve this problem for us. We, the people, must act.
As a first step, we must reduce unnecessary consumption. Do not purchase things you do not need. This practice, apart from being economical, will force industries to produce a little less. The less a good is demanded, the less it will be produced. Secondly, we should find ways to use goods as efficiently as possible. We could, for instance, reduce our paper usage by taking notes electronically and sharing same via the internet. We could also reuse plastic bags (commonly called nylon bags), shopping bags and other plastic items, thereby reducing demand for plastic. We could walk too instead of driving. There are many more changes we can make to our individual lifestyles so as to protect our environment. The main point is that if consumers use goods wisely, then they will consume less since the goods would then last longer.
After the two steps mentioned in the preceding paragraph have been taken by an individual who has decided that protecting the environment is worth his/her effort and so has to make his/her lifestyle eco-friendlier, a more tasking step must then be taken. This newly-formed eco-friendly individual must spread the word about saving the environment. This individual must make a conscious effort towards including environmental conservation in conversations, group discussions, social media and any other means available to him/her. Anyone who becomes eco-friendlier without sensitizing those around him/her is like one who has a light but hides it so that no one sees with it. We have a duty to bring those around us into the light of environmental consciousness.
Earth is our home. We are responsible for ensuring that it is saved from the environmental issues threatening it – after all, we caused most of them. We must play our part in saving the planet. If we do not protect our home, no one will.
EGWUCHIM Swithin, Class of 2020
AJUYAH Akatomisan, Class of 2020
UGWUMADU Christabel, Class of 2020
This article is a response to a panel discussion in Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt on the subject, “JMC and the Environment: Challenges, Prospects and Roadmap”. The panel discussion took place in the morning of Monday 18 November 2019. The panellists were the following students: Ogbonna-Ukuku Kosisochukwu, Imade Imuetiyan, Ebaretonbofa Doubra, Okorie Fortress and Emeh Adanma. The authors – Egwuchim Swithin, Ajuyah Akatomisan and Ugwumadu Christabel – facilitated the discussion.