edge

​Dread Plastic Bag

Picture Courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Akil Callender and I run an organisation that, through social media, educates the public on climate change and how they can reduce their ecological footprint.

I am a Port of Spain person. I grew up on Stone Street, next door to PowerGen. Never really had to look over my shoulder. It wasn’t country days, climbing trees, but it was nice.

I’m a Pentecostal Christian and a very strong believer. My stance on LGBT people is that everybody has to be judged by their creator at the end of their time. I am not their creator. Who am I to say how other people can or cannot live? Pentecostal doctrine is that LGBT people [are sinners] but it’s a human rights issue and I’m not a blind follower [that] everything they say, I’m going to believe.

Everything I’ve ever liked to do that relaxes me has to do with the outdoors. So, funny as it sounds, my relaxation is to exercise: run, swim, anything. Skip rope at home for 20 minutes, hike, whatever. I do amateur wildlife photography, I sail. I hiked [Trinidad’s highest mountain] El Cerro del Aripo five years ago and it wasn’t that bad – but I was a LOT fitter then!

My girlfriend, Heidi Barrow, motivates me to strive for excellence. She is half-Bajan, half-Trini, and we met in Jamaica. My immediate family is just me, my sister, Nephema, my mom, Annette Bernard, and my dad, Arnold Callender. My dad owns a transport company and my mom owns a yacht services company. So it was natural that I would do something for myself.

I started my organisation, The Greener Side, last December, because, a lot of the time, we, as citizens, depend on the government to put things in place with regard to fixing the environment. The flooding, pollution, energy use, that kind of stuff – but the government putting policy and incentives in place is only half the job: the citizens have a large part to play. We’re currently in the paperwork to become a proper NGO.

Our goal is to spread awareness of how everybody can, in their own lives, be more green. And cut down on their environmental impact.

Lots of families have four cars, four persons leaving the same place in four cars to go in one direction! Obviously, carpooling would help. But that is the smallest problem we have to face compared to the biggest one: plastic!

We in Trinidad are atrocious with the amount of waste we produce with our single-use plastics. Trinidad actually produces the most municipal solid waste per capita in the world! We produce THREE times more plastic waste than the second placed Kuwait. It’s really, really bad. We’re doing a lot of damage for such a small nation. We produce all this waste and we have nowhere to put it. We HAVE to cut down.

Carnival is a major contributor to our waste. The average fete – one single fete – could produce 50,000-70,000 pieces of plastic, in the form of bottles, straws, cups, plates. If it’s a cooler fete, worse yet! If we multiply that by the amount of fetes we have – and, some days, we have 15 fetes – it’s crazy! In just February and March, we outdo everyone in the world. And we’re now having fetes throughout the year!

What we can do is pick up some innovative solutions. We’ve partnered with the people who put on the fetes in Tobago every year to try to make their events green. Things like not having single-use cups, have people bring their own cups. Cut out the straws. Put things in place to recycle plastic bottles actually at the fete site, so that, even if we can’t avoid using plastic bottles, they’re going straight into a recycle bin.

This going green thing, as important as it is, is just not seen as a priority for our government.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayI think a lot of our littering comes from ignorance: Trinidadians are not aware. They think, “Oh, it’s just one bag or one straw, one bottle.” But, if everybody is thinking like that, you can see where we go. Which is why the education part is so important. Which is why we’re targeting (1) social media, which everybody uses and (2) the youth demographic, the adults of tomorrow – which is why the Island Crashers weekend is so important: they get 4,000-5,000 young persons over to Tobago.

Everybody should rinse out their plastic bottles, ideally crushing them, and taking them to one of the I Care bins. Or to Massey Stores. There was another one, Plastikeep, that was doing really, really good work, but didn’t get the funding; it’s sad to see initiatives like Plastikeep get shut down.

SWMCOL (the Solid Waste Management Company) processes plastics, breaks it down to chips to reuse. It’s just for us to collect and recyle. Right now, a very small portion – like below 15 per cent – gets recycled now. If we just held on to our plastic and looked for a recycle bin, we could cut down on the waste a lot!

I was originally going to do a petroleum geoscience masters but I changed it to sustainable energy futures when I realised we had this problem and we all talk about it but no one does anything. So my cousin Hugh Callender and I started The Greener Side, so younger people could make a difference. We have to fight for our world because the people who are doing the damage now are not going to be here to face the consequences.

We’re third in the world per capita for emissions. But, even with all our traffic, only eight per cent is produced from transport. Point Lisas, oil & gas, all the factories produce most. We’re not addressing the 70 per cent that stems from manufacturing.

The CEO of BHP Billiton, Mr Vincent Pereira, gave me a great piece of advice: just pursue what you love. He works 12-hour days and it’s not work for him. I want to do something I love.

I’m going away for my masters, to see how a large city like London, England, which is so big on oil & gas, manages to cut down their emissions. They have been doing really well. My degree specialises in policies as well. I’ll miss Carnival, Trini food and my family. But not too much, because I know I’ll be changing Trinidad & Tobago for the better.

We don’t have single-use plastics legislation in Trinidad yet. We need it desperately.

This problem is way, way more serious than people think. I know I have quite a few battles to fight in the future when it comes to making the switch to cleaner energy. Because Trinidad is so dependent on oil & gas and it makes so much money for us. I think they’re going to try to hold on to it for as long as possible but that is detrimental for the environment.

The best part about setting up The Greener Side is I get to give back. When my time comes, I don’t want to leave this planet in the same state it was when I came into it. I want to know I’ve done my part, and not just a small-scale change. I want to make a global difference because this environment thing affects everyone and everything.

To me, a Trini has a love/hate relationship with their country. They defend it fiercely, they love the melting pot of ethnicities, the culture, but, at the same time, they’re always complaining.

For me, Trinidad & Tobago, the place where I was born and grew up, means “home” to me. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. A lot of Trinis travel all over the world to go to these fantastic locations – but Trinidad & Tobago has it all!

​Dread Plastic Bag

Picture Courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Akil Callender and I run an organisation that, through social media, educates the public on climate change and how they can reduce their ecological footprint.

I am a Port of Spain person. I grew up on Stone Street, next door to PowerGen. Never really had to look over my shoulder. It wasn’t country days, climbing trees, but it was nice.

I’m a Pentecostal Christian and a very strong believer. My stance on LGBT people is that everybody has to be judged by their creator at the end of their time. I am not their creator. Who am I to say how other people can or cannot live? Pentecostal doctrine is that LGBT people [are sinners] but it’s a human rights issue and I’m not a blind follower [that] everything they say, I’m going to believe.

Everything I’ve ever liked to do that relaxes me has to do with the outdoors. So, funny as it sounds, my relaxation is to exercise: run, swim, anything. Skip rope at home for 20 minutes, hike, whatever. I do amateur wildlife photography, I sail. I hiked [Trinidad’s highest mountain] El Cerro del Aripo five years ago and it wasn’t that bad – but I was a LOT fitter then!

My girlfriend, Heidi Barrow, motivates me to strive for excellence. She is half-Bajan, half-Trini, and we met in Jamaica. My immediate family is just me, my sister, Nephema, my mom, Annette Bernard, and my dad, Arnold Callender. My dad owns a transport company and my mom owns a yacht services company. So it was natural that I would do something for myself.

I started my organisation, The Greener Side, last December, because, a lot of the time, we, as citizens, depend on the government to put things in place with regard to fixing the environment. The flooding, pollution, energy use, that kind of stuff – but the government putting policy and incentives in place is only half the job: the citizens have a large part to play. We’re currently in the paperwork to become a proper NGO.

Our goal is to spread awareness of how everybody can, in their own lives, be more green. And cut down on their environmental impact.

Lots of families have four cars, four persons leaving the same place in four cars to go in one direction! Obviously, carpooling would help. But that is the smallest problem we have to face compared to the biggest one: plastic!

We in Trinidad are atrocious with the amount of waste we produce with our single-use plastics. Trinidad actually produces the most municipal solid waste per capita in the world! We produce THREE times more plastic waste than the second placed Kuwait. It’s really, really bad. We’re doing a lot of damage for such a small nation. We produce all this waste and we have nowhere to put it. We HAVE to cut down.

Carnival is a major contributor to our waste. The average fete – one single fete – could produce 50,000-70,000 pieces of plastic, in the form of bottles, straws, cups, plates. If it’s a cooler fete, worse yet! If we multiply that by the amount of fetes we have – and, some days, we have 15 fetes – it’s crazy! In just February and March, we outdo everyone in the world. And we’re now having fetes throughout the year!

What we can do is pick up some innovative solutions. We’ve partnered with the people who put on the fetes in Tobago every year to try to make their events green. Things like not having single-use cups, have people bring their own cups. Cut out the straws. Put things in place to recycle plastic bottles actually at the fete site, so that, even if we can’t avoid using plastic bottles, they’re going straight into a recycle bin.

This going green thing, as important as it is, is just not seen as a priority for our government.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayI think a lot of our littering comes from ignorance: Trinidadians are not aware. They think, “Oh, it’s just one bag or one straw, one bottle.” But, if everybody is thinking like that, you can see where we go. Which is why the education part is so important. Which is why we’re targeting (1) social media, which everybody uses and (2) the youth demographic, the adults of tomorrow – which is why the Island Crashers weekend is so important: they get 4,000-5,000 young persons over to Tobago.

Everybody should rinse out their plastic bottles, ideally crushing them, and taking them to one of the I Care bins. Or to Massey Stores. There was another one, Plastikeep, that was doing really, really good work, but didn’t get the funding; it’s sad to see initiatives like Plastikeep get shut down.

SWMCOL (the Solid Waste Management Company) processes plastics, breaks it down to chips to reuse. It’s just for us to collect and recyle. Right now, a very small portion – like below 15 per cent – gets recycled now. If we just held on to our plastic and looked for a recycle bin, we could cut down on the waste a lot!

I was originally going to do a petroleum geoscience masters but I changed it to sustainable energy futures when I realised we had this problem and we all talk about it but no one does anything. So my cousin Hugh Callender and I started The Greener Side, so younger people could make a difference. We have to fight for our world because the people who are doing the damage now are not going to be here to face the consequences.

We’re third in the world per capita for emissions. But, even with all our traffic, only eight per cent is produced from transport. Point Lisas, oil & gas, all the factories produce most. We’re not addressing the 70 per cent that stems from manufacturing.

The CEO of BHP Billiton, Mr Vincent Pereira, gave me a great piece of advice: just pursue what you love. He works 12-hour days and it’s not work for him. I want to do something I love.

I’m going away for my masters, to see how a large city like London, England, which is so big on oil & gas, manages to cut down their emissions. They have been doing really well. My degree specialises in policies as well. I’ll miss Carnival, Trini food and my family. But not too much, because I know I’ll be changing Trinidad & Tobago for the better.

We don’t have single-use plastics legislation in Trinidad yet. We need it desperately.

This problem is way, way more serious than people think. I know I have quite a few battles to fight in the future when it comes to making the switch to cleaner energy. Because Trinidad is so dependent on oil & gas and it makes so much money for us. I think they’re going to try to hold on to it for as long as possible but that is detrimental for the environment.

The best part about setting up The Greener Side is I get to give back. When my time comes, I don’t want to leave this planet in the same state it was when I came into it. I want to know I’ve done my part, and not just a small-scale change. I want to make a global difference because this environment thing affects everyone and everything.

To me, a Trini has a love/hate relationship with their country. They defend it fiercely, they love the melting pot of ethnicities, the culture, but, at the same time, they’re always complaining.

For me, Trinidad & Tobago, the place where I was born and grew up, means “home” to me. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. A lot of Trinis travel all over the world to go to these fantastic locations – but Trinidad & Tobago has it all!