Go GREEN (Guyana’s Re-education of Environmental Norms)
Re-educating Guyanese citizens on the responsible use and disposal of plastics and its impacts on the environment
Pitch us on your solution
Plastics comprise a large portion of the non-biodegradable components of waste. Residents of the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) use a high amount of single-use plastics on a daily basis, whether it is through packaging, shopping bags, and utensils. Subsequently, incorrect plastic disposal contributes to blocked drains, damaged landscape, and even animal mortality and human morbidity.To solve this problem, Go GREEN seeks to educate all Guyanese about the impacts of excessive plastic use and improper disposal on the environment, the economy, and best of all, human health in order to mobilise change and reduce pollution. We believe that lack of education of the public at large contributes to a lack of understanding on how incorrect plastic disposal impacts society overall. Thus, our project seeks to tackle this issue from the ground up by promoting educational programs that will thereby invoke positive change from individuals and communities, thus positively impacting society.
What is the problem you are solving?
It is a well-known fact that LAC contributes to the largest amount of plastic pollution per capita in the world. Guyana, a moderately-populated country in the northern-region of South America with just about 750,000 residents, is not exempt from this statistic. Guyana's Environmental & Protection Agency has stated that solid waste production is estimated at 0.59 kg/person-day and is forecasted to rise to 0.77 kg/person-day by 2024 as the local economy continues to grow and develop.
Guyana, which was once widely known as the "Garden City of the Caribbean", has slowly declined into what can otherwise be known as the "Garbage City". One can easily validate this term when walking through downtown Georgetown, the capital city, and witness mounds of garbage overtaking sideways, blocking drains, inappropriate disposal of trash. Despite much efforts over recent years made by the Government to reclaim their aforementioned title, such as through their "Clean My Country Program" in 2015, where large cities were allocated over GYD$100 million (~USD$500,000) to be cleaned on a large scale, much work still has to be done. Clearly, lack of financial resources is not the issue in solving this problem, but rather education and community mobilisation must be emphasised.
Who are you serving?
Guyanese are sociable people who value family and community. Over time, Guyana has suffered from "brain drain", particularly with specialised professions and skilled labourers, demonstrated by a net emigration rate of approximately 10% in 2018, which is the seventh highest in the world. Thus, the country has been plagued by a stark underdevelopment of educational efforts related to many areas such as public health, in which environmental issues are emphasised.
Irregardless of this shortage, the need still remains for community education and involvement in addressing issues such as climate change, the environment, and the impacts of improper plastic waste disposal.
In order to be in alignment with core Guyanese values of family and community, we seek to address our solution through societal norms of communication such as town-hall meetings, school-based education, one-on-one and group interviews, questionnaires distributed on social media, and via radio and television segments.
The solution will address their need for a clean environment that is safe for human and animal health. Through education, we believe that the residents of Guyana and eventually, the remainder of the Caribbean region will become motivated to participate in efforts to reduce their use of single-use plastics and its improper disposal.
What is your solution?
Treating the problem of increased plastic waste and widespread plastic pollution in Guyana and throughout the Caribbean with a "band-aid" remedy while merely providing physical resources such as city-wide clean up days, only work to treat the apparent problem on a short-term basis. On the other hand, we purpose to get to the root of the problem of increased plastic pollution and improper waste disposal by implementing social and behavioural interventions in the community, primarily through mass education.
Select only the most relevant.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Georgetown, Guyana
Our solution's stage of development:Prototype
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
Our Focus is on Community Education
- Educational programs implemented to all school levels (nursery schools to tertiary) highlighting the theory and application of plastic waste disposal
- Town hall meetings held to gather resident's perspectives and concerns regarding the disseminated informations
- Education broadcasted on social media, radio and television programs sensitising and informing persons of their responsibilities in protecting their environment
- Students will gain competency on the impacts of single-use plastics and their role in addressing and minimising plastic waste
- Residents' concerns in designated regions will be adhered to and addressed
- Social media, radio, and television will serve as a mass outlet of information for reform and mobilizing support from communities across the country
- Residents demonstrate ability to engage in limiting purchasing of single-use plastics, while opting to purchase biodegradable items instead
- Students and residents demonstrate understanding of plastic pollution and its impacts on the environment, the economy, and health by being able to disseminate this information to others
- Students and residents actively engage in clean-ups in their respective communities on a regular basis
- Communities as a whole have at least a 90% reduction in plastic pollution by 2025
- Increased community unity and persons operating on a collective front
- Less strain on city ordinance budget in providing funds to combat pollution and city-wide clean-ups
- More funds to be allocated to rehabilitation of infrastructure
- Increase tourist attratction due to beatufiaction of the environemnt
- Reduction in vector-borne diseases
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Since our project is within the pilot stages of implementation, we are currently focused on impacting the capital city of Georgetown which has a total of approximately 120,000 persons. Within the first year of project implementation, we will spread throughout region four of Guyana which also includes Georgetown and its environs, and has a population of approximately 311,500 persons. By 2025 (within 5 years), the project will expand to the whole country, which has a total population of approximately 740,000 persons.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
- Increase recycling and waste reduction by 100% in the business and residential sector of the community.
- Encourage increased recycling, composting, source reduction and waste reduction in residential properties.
- 100% of plastics to be recycled or recoverable by 2025.
- Encourage residents to actively recycle, compost, reduce waste, and reuse materials whenever possible. It is also important to encourage residents to engage insource reduction, which reduces the amount of waste that is initially generated. This goal is imperative to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills, preserve natural resources, reduce costs, reduce pollution and ultimately reduce our carbon footprint.
- Increase the amount of recycled goods purchased and utilized by the public by 10% every year for 5 years.
- Increased education of society in plastic recycling and reduction by 90%.
- Within the next year, develop and implement a comprehensive recycling and waste reduction education program for local businesses and city of Georgetown schools
- Decrease in volume of plastic bags used by 2025 by 90%.
- Invoke community comradely.
- Within the next 5 years, develop and implement a plastics waste franchise to include, at minimum Georgetown and its environs.
- Purpose is to consolidate plastic waste and recycling services in Georgetown under one waste management company.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
Current barriers include:
- Identifying a central location for plastic waste drop off.
- Non-compliance and non-pariicpation from residents.
- Language barrier of multiple residents.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
- Coordinate with City Hall and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in identifying appropriate site for centralized plastic waste disposal.
- Minimise non-compliance and non-participation of residents with incentive programs. Ensure consistent enforcement to encourage compliance and participation.
- Provide educational materials in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, and French.
Please select one.
What type of organization is your solution team?Not registered as any organization
How many people work on your solution team?
Total number of persons on solution team include two independent contractors.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best placed to deliver this solution?
One of the team members has a Master of Public Health with 5 years of experience planning community educational programs.
The next team member is an electrical engineer with skills in mobilising community efforts, actively engaging stakeholders, and motivating individuals to change.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We plan to sell products such as biodegradable utensils and dinnerware, environmentally-friendly t-shirts, rubber-bands, and bookmarks.
We plan to partner with local NGOs for grants and local government ministries for long-term contracts.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
- Guyana Environmental Protection Agency
- Guyana Ministry of the Presidency
- United Nations Environmental Programme
- Guyana Chamber of Commerce
- Institute of Private Enterprise Development
- Guyana American Chamber of Commerce