Councilman Kraft James who is also the chairman of the judicial and legislative investigations committee has been a frustrated man since 2008. His frustrations accrue to lack of progress in Baltimore despite the many attempts, numerous meetings and set legislature (Tim par3).Tim Wheeler, an environmental reporter in Chesapeake bay, uses Kraft’s James frustrations to describe the real situation in the city. The city has officially been declared as ‘harbor impaired’ by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
If you have not been around the city’s waterfront lately, then you would not know what I’m talking about. The inner harbor has been replaced by floating and submerging trash. This is no surprise to landlubbers, given that litter is readily visible in vacant lots and alleys, in most street gutters and storm drains, which ultimately empty into the watery heart of the city (Tim par1). Tim uses this explanation in defining the environmental challenge that is being witnesses in the city. Motivating the city’s residents on means to solve the issue is proving to be difficult, and this is increasing environmental threats.
The protection program is crucial to save the lives and property of the residents, which is at significant risk (Morgan 14). Morgan, an environmentalist, finds it important to save the lives of the residents who are surrounded by an environmental risk. The city has been reported as being amongst the most affected in cancer cases, water and air borne diseases, from the dirty water and air pollution that comes from the waste. In addition, some buildings, especially those close to the landfills, are at risk of collapsing since their foundations are becoming weaker every day. The protection measure is, therefore, what the city requires to promote health and sustainable environment.
The council of Baltimore needs to establish policies and measures that govern against littering. This can be achieved through public awareness, use of public and household trash cans and an expansion of the existing programs. The measures may take time before the realization of the objective, but their implementation offer a sustainable solution to the hazard.
The waste comprises of plastics, chemicals, household waste and industrial waste. The levels of danger in the health of individuals staying close to the dump sites continue to grow. Industries and citizens in the city fail to recognize or tend to be ignorant about the environmental problem that the waste has brought upon them. In his book, Robinson, an environmental scientist who has been on the frontline in support and guidance to environmental sustainability in US, realizes that some people are environmental ignorant. Individuals throw out waste without realization that they are headed for an unplanned landfill (Robinson 92). Such landfills pose a serious health risk due to exposure to the hazardous waste. Such landfills compound to toxic chemicals that pollute the air, water and soil. This may lead to birth defects, diseases like cancer and genetic mutilations among others.
In order to come up with a sustainable recommendation of cleaning the city, there is the need to know the waste that is common in the waterfront. According to the latest report given by the council, at least 300,000 pounds of waste comprise of natural leaves, bush branches, trees and other plant debris. The rest of the waste is considered man made; this comprises of plastic bottles, foam cups, grocery bags among others. Interestingly, the council reports that over one million cigarette butts were collected in Jones Falls over the last eight months (Tim par5). From Tim’s statement it is possible to have a clear vision of the real situation in Baltimore.
The council has been on the frontline in the promotion of waste management. This has been through implementation of laws that discourage waste disposal. One of the strategies imposed was discouraging local stores from packing their merchandise using plastic bags. This was enhanced by making the bags inaccessible from local stores and also hiking prices on the plastic bags. However, the efforts proved unfruitful. This was because the inhabitants of the city are not aware or a simply ignorant on the environmental risk that is knocking on their doors. There lacks cooperation and willingness to clear up the mess. Morgan emphasizes on the need of cooperation from the local residents in creating a sustainable environment. Bringing outsiders from concerned environmental agencies may reduce the risk, but without co-operation from the locals their efforts will not succeed (Morgan 14).
Some of the residents propose that cleaning up Baltimore should start from the neighborhoods far from the falls and the waterfront. This would be successful; however, without cooperation from the residents, it would only last for a while. What the city requires is an environmental awareness program that would make the residents knowledgeable on the hazard facing them. This would assist in cooperation as even environmentalists assist in cleaning up the city. There is a significant challenge especially on cigarette smokers; the council cannot ban smoking. Nevertheless, the council can impose rules banning smoking on public areas and impose requirements like ashtrays in offices and secluded public smoking areas.
Existing environmental awareness programs do not address the root causes of the environmental problem rather they focus on solving the issue. This lasts for a short time since after the clean ups, the garbage and trash are still disposed. This can only be explained to be as a result of lack of grass root knowledge. The new awareness programs should be focused on educating residents and industry owners on the effects of poor waste management and proper storage and disposal methods (Morgan 6). The latter identifies the need for local awareness programs in maintaining a sustainable environment. This would assist the residents on realization of the effect that trash has on their health and the environment in general. Public education should be launched in schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, recreational areas and other public areas. Environmental conservation should be added as a compulsory or a common core in learning institutions. The existing environmental programs should be extended to cover more city residents than what they have been targeting before. The department of public works should work closely and fund the partnerships formed by environmental organizations to make the program a success.
This would increase awareness to the residents. In addition, educating them would assist them in initiating internal measures that they feel would be comfortable for them to create a sustainable environment (Robinson 103). Robinson argues that, locally initiated programs are successful since the affected parties act according to their need. Having the program implemented in school syllabus would also enhance environmental protection in a tender age. The learners would be equipped with the effects of waste mismanagement and measures to put in place in cases of environmental risks.
Awareness programs and promotion of environmental knowledge in Baltimore residents would contribute to the success of the action required. In order to facilitate what is seemed to be the behavior of the residents, disposal of waste, awareness and environmental knowledge needs to be assimilated into the daily lives of the whole community. The city’s young people should be considered as assets since they are the most affected by the environmental risk, and also would understand better on why an immediate action is required.
The success of cleaning Baltimore and making the city free from environmental hazards depends on participation and cooperation of the residents, industries and environmental institutions within the area (Robinson 108). From Robinson’s input, the willingness of the locals determines the success of this proposal. Environmental institutions have always worked with the council of Baltimore to promote environmental sustainability, but without the participation of the residents, industries and institutions within, the efforts have always been turned down. Engaging the local community through programs would mean a grass root approach to the problem and an outreach on behavioral change at the most local level (Tim par8). This would enhance the creation of a manageable environment which would save the city, as intended by this proposal.
Suggested strategies to implement the awareness programs are; engaging local organizations to disseminate target sustainable information, launching a city wide sustainability challenge aiming at the local, utilize a network of volunteer ship and ambassadors to community outreach and also having a local environmental sustainability calendar. This would enhance the process of passing information and also act as a check program on the improvements.
The awareness program strategy may not have realizable benefits in the short run, due to the challenges involved, but in the long run it provides a sustainable solution that the city requires. Most of the programs implemented in the city on cleaning and promotion of environmental management lack the concept of local cooperation. This is mainly because the locals do not have the knowledge or are ignorant of the programs. If awareness is made local, the other programs would also work and provide a long lasting solution to the city of Baltimore.
Morgan, Sally. Waste, Recycling and Reuse. London: Evans, 2009. Print.
Robinson, William D. The Solid Waste Handbook: A Practical Guide. New York: Wiley, 1986. Print.
Tim, Wheeler. Talking trash in B’more. 10th March, 2010. Work cited,