The 2023 World Environment Day was celebrated across the world with the theme, “Solutions to Plastic Pollution”. Every activity undertaken on the day (5th June) was geared towards raising public awareness and mobilising actions from all and sundry to end plastic pollution on the environment. The menace caused by plastic pollution is compounding more pressure on the world as it currently faces the daunting challenge of mitigating the devastating effects of climate change on human populations and biodiversity. An estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic waste empties into the oceans every year, a figure that is expected to triple by the year 2040. This obviously has grave effects on marine and coastal species, and by extension, human beings.

In a view to mark this day, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) worked with a host of School Nature Clubs (SNCs) in the Western Area and North of the country to figure out solutions and also raise awareness among their colleague pupils and school communities.

In the Western Area, a day long workshop was conducted on May 25, 2023 for SNC members, during which some very impressive solutions and actions were developed by the pupils. Key among such solutions included the use of paper bags instead of plastic bags, public refusal to accept plastic bags in all formal and informal market places, recycling waste plastic materials for decorative purposes, etc. The school pupils also developed plans to conduct sensitization sessions through drama performances and face-to-face engagement for their school folks and their respective school communities on the hazards of plastic pollution.

On June 5, the Communication, Advocacy  and Environmental Education Department of CSSL witnessed a drama performance and community door-to-door outreach sensitization conducted by the Hontingdon Secondary School, Jui, outside Freetown. This was followed by radio and television discussion programs organised to continue to raise public awareness around the issues of plastic pollution. Panelists for both programs were drawn from the Environment Protection Agency – Sierra Leone, SNC pupils and Teacher Coordinators, and staff of CSSL.  The discussions were conducted on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) television and the Society for Radio Democracy – 98.1 FM. Similar sensitization sessions were also undertaken by SNCs in Kunya community, Sambaia Bendugu chiefdom in Tonkolili district, northern Sierra Leone.

“Everyone should take care of waste plastic; we should not just litter them around. I would like the government to make littering of plastic and other garbage on the environment a punishable crime…”  Bernadette Massaquoi, Principal, Hontingdon Secondary School, Jui

Text by: Abdul Kaprr Dumbuya, Communications Manager, CSSL