The 2014-15 LASCO Re-Leaf Environmental Awareness programme will focus on waste management among communities to mitigate negative environmental impacts on the island. The decision comes in light of the devastating effects of the almost year-long drought experienced by many communities. Speaking at the launch on Friday, October 3 at the St. Jago Cathedral Preparatory School in St. Catherine, Stephen Newland, LASCO REAP Project Director, said that the programme will focus heavily on resource management and community stakeholders’ practices, while working in tandem with the global approach to environmental awareness and well-being.
“Coming out of a drought this year, the idea is to focus heavily on resource management, meaning how we dispose of our garbage, how we use our water and electricity, how we use our telephones, even the cutting down of trees which provides fuel. We want to think of innovative ways -how it is we can help our island by saving and conserving and creating the smallest amount of waste possible,” explained Newland.
The programme’s theme, 'Where There Is A Will, There Is No Waste', is particularly significant because of the negative environmental impacts already being experienced by the nation, such as the year-long drought, water and electricity shortage, high food costs, as well as solid waste management challenges. For the 2014-2015 programme, LASCO REAP will initiate a school environment manual and heritage tour, slated for January 2015.
For the third year LASCO will continue to promote student participation in environmental protection. Peter Chin, Managing Director of LASCO Distributors Limited explains the companies’ decision to become directly involved in the initiative, investing $19 million over the three years.
“Our mandate is to protect the well-being of Jamaicans and protecting the environment against harmful impacts is a significant part of achieving this objective. The way we treat the environment affects the quality of life of persons, and improper care of our surroundings can lead to serious health risks among other negative effects. This year’s objective to tackle waste management is indeed timely and I implore the students and communities to do their part in taking care of our surroundings,” he said.
In the schools and communities targeted, LASCO REAP aims to improve on 11,000 trees planted, 85,000 plastic bottles collected and almost 100 gardens started since the inception of the programme in 2012. The programme encourages students to find creative and innovative ways to conserve energy, recycle and keep their school environment clean. Among the innovations created by last year’s winner St. Jago Cathedral Preparatory School are; a greywater system to re-use the waste water from the school’s canteen as an irrigation system for their banana walk and a solar cooker.
Students will be vying for the first place prize - a computer lab with ten computers; a laptop and projector for the second place winners; and a flat screen television for the school that places third. With these and other prizes available, students will have to amass the most points in a variety of competition areas.
LASCO REAP was launched in 2012 with 50 schools and the second year culminated with 131 schools both primary and preparatory participating under the theme 'Eat Locally, Think Globally!'.