Tree planting among other environmental practices have been advocated as essential for Ikorodu residents to take to in a bid to contribute to a greener environment.
Olawale Thompson who is an environmental specialist heading an environmental agency catering for the Ikorodu masses shares more insights in this interview with Efosa Taiwo.
How did your environment career start for you?
I am a Nigerian environmentalist, health and safety professional and a Noble insurer who has found interest in environmental protection and sustainability. Having grown in a neighborhood which was qualified a slum, neglected and marginalized, waste management had been a societal problem knocking at my door since childhood. Perhaps that short story built my passion on environmental management — that is still uncertain — but years down the line I have found myself becoming a major solution to waste management problems in my state, Lagos, Nigeria.
I got into municipal waste collection and recycling officially in 2016, registering my first company, Toynad Recycling and Waste Management. We focused on waste collection and environmental sensitization. Since then, my team and I have kept working with communities, government and private organizations, identifying ways by which they could curb the societal problem to return sanity to their environment.
I then went ahead to take a course on environmental protection and sustainability in 2018.
Having laid this foundation, I founded another company in 2020, Planet Savers Global Limited, which focuses on plastic waste solutions. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, we made conscious efforts to recover as much waste plastic as possible from homes. I have remained committed to the job since I started, building up individuals, providing jobs and becoming a beacon of hope among my peers and to the younger generation. I am glad I started this great journey and I hope I continue to come up with great ideas to capture more areas and people in the society and beyond.
With your presence in the Ikorodu Community, how can you describe the environmental state of Ikorodu?
It is improving. It’s getting better. I’ve not been to all parts of ikorodu but so far with the areas I’ve seen, I can tell you they are improving. However, I think much work still needs to be done around Odogunyan, and beyond. In terms of municipal waste collection, waste separation and recycling awareness, there is hardly any part of Ikorodu that some form of waste recycling isn’t going on. You find various recyclers all around Ikorodu.
The awareness they have created in engaging the members of the society into the consciousness of our noble course has contributed to the improved state. They ensure our waste are being identified and treated accordingly.
The state government through the present LAWMA administration have also encouraged recyclers and the community on proper waste management culture. Some incentives have been given to registered recyclers across the state to encourage and support their business too. Even the informal sectors, the cart pushers around. They are very well informed.
Climate change is a major issue in the world today. From your observation, what are the Ikorodu people doing that they need to stop doing to ensure that they contribute to a safer environment?
Some areas where they have no proper waste disposal system, waste burning is still practised. We need to stop open burning of our refuse. Some recycling companies are also nonchallant about their emissions. It’s a great concern.
We also need to have a reduction in green house gas emissions. We need to engage in planting of trees and conscious waste management effort by everyone. Each and everyone of us needs to be conscious of our footprint, making sure we consider our environmental responsibility in everything we do. Energy conservation is yet another way to go about keeping the environment healthy. Doing the little things count. It’s very simple: Plant trees, keep your waste inorder, reduce gas emissions, be an energy saver and not a greedy consumer (laughs).
In other parts of Lagos, you find trees in their numbers, how important is the planting of trees to the environment and what needs to be done to have such practice in Ikorodu?
Trees have oxygen. We need it to survive. They absorb our carbon dioxide. They provide shelter for birds, shed for human, makes the environment green and aesthetically pleasing. A simple government policy can fix that. Every building should have a tree. Lagos state is doing a good job with the gardens around major areas. Trees along the highways e.g Ikorodu road. We have gardens in different parts of the city also managed by the state.
There are some inner communities in Ikorodu where they don’t have LAWMA or environmental agency coming to pick their refuse. What will you advise such communities to do in light of this?
They obviously can not keep their refuse in their homes for too long. They can’t eat it, they can’t burn it, they can’t throw them in the gutters. The only solution is to reach out to the authorities to allocate a collector for them.
The market ranks as one of the dirtiest environments in Ikorodu, what can be done to tackle the lack of proper waste management therein?
It is simple: provide bins, ensure swift collections of refuse, make laws guiding against indiscriminate disposal and provide enforcement to ensure compliance.
Planet Savers, your agency, has been around for a while in Ikorodu, what have you been able to pull off in ensuring a greener environment in Ikorodu?
We engage in community recycling programme. We advocate in schools. We plan to engage in community clean-up as soon as we have everything in place. We have various schools on our portfolio. Then we collect recyclables from different people within ikorldu. Ibeshe, Ebute, Igbogbo, Sagamu Road and environs. Also, event centers, hotels, bars and banks. We have been paired with Wema bank.