Social enterprise outfit, CleanPick Green wants you to take action for sustainable environment
Omeyoma Eshemitan, 22-year-old princess of Oghara kingdom Delta state and founder of Cleanpick Green Nigeria, a social enterprise outfit based in the state is promoting grass root awareness in environmental sustainability efforts particularly in proper waste management and self-funding her campaigns.
Many young people joined her in recent march from Enerhen Junction, Jakpa Junction, Airport Road and converged at Airport Junction, to encourage the general public to stop indiscriminate dumping of waste in the environment.
Eshemitan tells BusinessDay’s ISAAC ANYAOGU her motivation for founding the organisation in this interview, excerpts:
What impact is your organization seeking to make?
My organization promotes grass root awareness and involvement in environmental sustainability specifically proper waste management.
We are basically getting people more aware of how their everyday actions constitute environmental degradation, the reality of climate change and the impact of poor waste management on both the environment and climate. We are getting people more committed to sorting their wastes and recycling.
It is our goal to provide writing materials and get more kids in school by substituting plastics for fees.
We are currently working on a community project beginning in Uvwie where we had our awareness work and this project is focused on reducing open defecation( I find it appalling that at this day and age people still open defecate) so we want to use plastic to build public toilets(we are currently in the planning stage).
Just as my watchword states “I want to use proper waste management to solve majority of Nigeria’s problem which includes diseases, lack of jobs, education, power etc starting here in delta state.
So we are basically focused on proper waste management to reduce disease, sustain the environment and empower the people
During our walk, we basically spoke to various people, noted how aware they were on proper waste management, we received their complaints and we heard from them on how best recycling would work for them and this is what we have collated to launch our collection centers in various communities in few months in Uvwie and Warri where this walk was done
We currently have a hub in Ogulagha community. It’s in the riverine area of Delta state. Now the majority of these people are dependent on fishing as their livelihood and most of the waste is thrown in the rivers and this is killing the fishes and not just that, there are microplastics these fishes consume and which we end up consuming and this causes various diseases.
So via our sensitization and collection center there, we are reducing the waste going to the rivers and at the same time we are empowering the people via our plastic for Education and value scheme.
We have a massive awareness walk scheduled in August at ogulagha. We have retrieved over 100 tonnes of plastic within 4 months in that community
How are you funded?
Out of passion, dedication and urgency for the sustainability of the environment, our first community awareness activities within the state was funded by myself and my team. I have always been so happy to put out my allowances and savings into these causes.
However, taking our awareness to a large scale via our Green walk Delta , we received support and partnerships from various organizations such as E-Terra , the leading E-Waste management company, E-waste Relief foundation, clean Warri and various other organizations. We also got support from the local government. Our collection center at Ogulagha is team funded
Give a bit of a background about yourself in terms of education and training and what motivated this?
I studied Law at the university of Lagos and I remember watching the young Greta Thurnberg in 2018 talking so passionately about the reality and impact of plastic pollution and it was just like a wake up call.
I began researching and I was appalled when I found that if I do not take actions within my state and country, we could go extinct and prior to that man and waste would compete for land space . The impact of poor waste management became so real even looking at the fact that Niger delta is known for fishing and it was estimated by the UN that if nothing is done we would have more plastics in the ocean. All this was a wake-up call especially considering the reality of the system currently practiced where waste is dumped in rivers and land. I just had to do something cause I know myself and generations will suffer most.
Also realizing the fact that my people are suffering , no jobs, poor education, power etc and to think this waste of properly managed can solve all these was just a call to action for me.
Being a princess here in Delta state, I realized I could do a lot with my influence for my people and so I decided to go to work and face the part for the sustenance of my people and humanity generally.
After all, what’s the point of practicing law or having any form of job if we had no habitat. The environment is the fountain of life and our existence so it’s just so important and became a priority for me
How much interaction are you having with the government to ensure your objectives translate to public policy?
On this question, I have had a good relationship so far with the government. I have had good government support commencing from the grassroots local government.
We have a legal team currently looking into the available laws and enforcement strategies. However, from the green walk, we found that the first problem with enforcement is awareness. A lot of people weren’t aware of some good policies and laws available and supporting proper waste management.
We are focused on building a waste management culture because having a sustainable waste management culture is key.
What needs to change to improve environmental outcomes in Delta state and Nigeria?
First more people have got to be aware of both the effects of poor waste management and the benefits of it.
Secondly, infrastructures that support proper waste management or better put that promotes environmental sustainability should be put in place and all players should be involved and give priority to environmental sustainability.
The state and the country have got to be determined to move past what is currently established to what should be.
In Africa, in Nigeria people have this mindset to hold on to what is or traditions even tho it’s not sustainable anymore forgetting that the characteristics of tradition itself is its dynamic nature.
We should be ready to change how businesses are being carried on and focused on putting the environment first just like the develop countries are doing.
We should also hold producers responsible to get them more involved in environmental sustainability just like is going on via various EPR laws in a more developed country.
Let’s prioritize our environment in everything we do and choose our children and those to come