To rid our communities of plastic waste, education and advocacy are important – Solomon Adelowo

To rid our communities of plastic waste, education and advocacy are important – Solomon Adelowo

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management. He is young. He is passionate, especially, when it comes to environmental issues. He interfaces with local communities and plastic waste prone areas. He is Solomon Adelowo, a 24-year-old youth who is flying the flag of the SDGs in the nooks and corners of Ibadan. Read his chat with Rasheed Adebiyi on his efforts to rid some local communities in Ibadan Metropolis of plastic waste. Here are the excerpts.

Tekedia: Could you tell us about yourself?

Solomon Adelowo: My name Solomon Adelowo and I am the co- founder of Jed Recycling Initiative. I am a graduate of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management from the Federal University of Agriculture,Abeokuta, Nigeria. I am a passionate educator and an advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals. At Jed Recycling Initiative, we promote Goasl 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15. We have engaged in Environmental Sustainability Projects which have reduced plastic waste disposed into the surroundings, thereby reducing the level of environmental effect caused by blockage of drainage by non-bio-degradable plastics such as Water bottles, PET bottles from soft drinks and other beverages. We also organize PET bottles Drive whereby we advocate and pick up plastic bottles. This is usually done in plastic polluted areas such as River side and drainage. We collect plastics waste from the public via donation, community service and volunteering. More so, we have organized environmental waste management seminars in communities titled Waste Management Routines for Sustainable Growth and Development. This involves training on how community members could adopt the 5R’s Reduce Reuse Recycle Repurpose Educate. We also donate waste bins to ensure proper segregation of waste.

Tekedia: What are the major motivations behind the programmes of JRI?

Solomon Adelowo For as long as I can remember, I have always been passionate about nature and most especially aquatic life. During my high school days, I could remember observing the local river which is the primary source of water in my community being polluted with floating plastic bottles, beverage cans among others. This fuelled my desire to lead innovations that reduce environmental pollution. After my undergraduate studies, I noted the urgency to curtail the negative impact of environmental pollution. This led me to the establishment of Jed Recycling Initiative. The motivation is to see communities of eco- conscious individuals who make intellectual and informed decisions regarding the environment. I am passionate about fostering clear awareness of, and concern about plastic pollution.

Tekedia:So, what have you done about this your passion?

Solomon Adelowo: This my passion birthed Jed Recycling Initiative which aims to challenge existing wasteful paradigms and the throw-away culture by giving value to waste while advocating against indiscriminate waste disposal. This Initiative combines environmental welfare and conservation tasks with community empowerment. Jed Recycling Initiatives create a community-based waste management campaigns. We do this through trainings, advocacies, peer education, innovation and initiating waste pickers and collection of recyclable materials. More so, we engage in environmental education against indiscriminate waste disposal. Most recently, we organized an Environmental Education Seminar in Ibadan titled ‘Waste Management Routines for Sustainable Growth and Development’ , where we sensitize and educate family and community heads on the effects of climate change, these community leaders pledged to be eco-conscious in their various families and impact others in their communities. We encourage the community to inculcate the 4R’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose. The seminar was concluded by presenting waste baskets and nose masks to the community and a Certificate of Participation was given to them. We encouraged them to make use of the waste bins to segregate their waste. It was indeed an interactive and interesting time to learn and being able to impart others.

I recollect, during the interactive session, a farmer shared his experience of farming in a far distant rural area where he thought would be a fertile virgin land. He said that while he was cultivating and making heaps on the farm, he saw residual plastic bottles. He said that he had a firsthand experience of the fact that plastic does not degrade, rather it is just buried in landfills. This is just one of the materials that are not biodegradable. Hence, they are meant to be disposed properly. In attendance were youth, family and community heads who could lead the needed changes we seek as regards Waste Management Routines. More so, we engage in PET Bottles Drive. This involves advocating against plastic pollution and picking up  plastic bottles from plastic polluted areas such as drainage channels and river side, including market and road side. We have done this PET Drive in over 10 communities.  Our PETBottles Drive have been carried out in Molete, Gege, Bode and Ogunpa communities of Ibadan, Oyo state. Most recently, we carried out this PET Bottles Drive in Odo-Ona Elewe River. Our next outreach tagged Ibadan PETBottle Drive 3.0 would be done in Molete, Ibadan, Oyo state. Moreover, the plastic collected is used for Upcycling and Recycling purposes, with the overall goals of ensuring Environmental Sustainability and strengthening the capacity of people to participate in combating environmental pollution and climate change as global citizens.

Tekedia:What is the future of JRI?

With our engagements, we hope to support the effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. More so, our activities would also make Nigerian citizens to be more Eco- conscious. It will also drastically reduce the number of plastic disposed in to the surroundings. It would intimate the people to utilize the 3R’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  We hope to be one of the best recycling initiatives in Nigeria. We hope to have a Recycling Academy where we will train people on how to carry out mini-upcycling and recycling. In the long run, we would help achieve a Sustainable Environment for all.

Tekedia: Moving forward what is the future for you?

Solomon Adelowo: I see myself advancing in the sustainable environment field acquiring more skills and experiences in the recycling industry. I would like to expand my horizons by jumping in feet first and learning as much as I can. Hence, I want to be an active player in achieving the SDGs specifically goal 12-Sustainable Consumption and Production- and goal 14 -Protecting Life below Water- among others.

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