Thursday 30th of March, 2023, Students, under the aegis of the Students Environmental Assembly of Nigeria 🇳🇬 [SEAN], gathered at the Faculty of Law Hall, University of Benin, to mark the first International Day of Zero Waste.

According to the United Nations, the International Day of Zero Waste aims to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, support the societal shift towards circularity and raise awareness about how zero-waste initiatives contribute to the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The students were seen carrying placards with several inscriptions, amongst which are: “Youths for Zero waste!” “Our waste, our responsibility!” “Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle & Repair your waste!”

While addressing the students, the Project Officer, Waste Management department of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria, Miss Enyinnaya Melody, urged the students to lead responsible productive and consumptive lifestyles. She strongly emphasized that achieving Zero Waste amongst individuals and within the school environment is very much possible, if the society begins to see wastes as resources, rather than as wastes.

Miss. Enyinnaya Melody I.

“I stand here today as we honour the world’s first ever International Day of Zero Waste to urge you to be leaders and propagators of responsible productive and consumptive lifestyles. I must say that Zero Waste, as a concept, has been seen as the best way to tackle the root causes of wastes, and I believe that achieving Zero Waste is possible as an individual and even in the school environment, all we need is that small shift in our daily living and cultural/attitudinal change towards waste,” she said, adding that “we must start seeing waste as resources and also treat it as such because a particular material may no longer be useful to Mr A but it’s a raw material to Mr. B, this brings us to eliminating dumpsites completely and creating resource site where recyclers can easily walk in to pick their raw materials.”

The U.N. upholds that “zero-waste initiatives can foster sound waste management and minimize and prevent waste, helping to address the triple planetary crisis, protect the environment, enhance food security and improve human health and well-being.”

Miss Melody appealed to Government at all levels to implement environmental policies and laws to hold manufacturing companies accountable for their waste mismanagement. She also called for the establishment of recycling plants, as she used the term 7Rs to describe the necessary guide for a proper waste manageable living and daily activities.

“We must manage our waste from the source by living and having our daily activities being guided by the 7Rs- Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle and Repair our waste,” she said.

“Government can help by actively carrying out their responsibilities of implementing environmental policies and laws also strictly enforcing them, holding manufacturing companies to be responsible of their products’ wastes and also establishing recycling plants; if individuals can go into the business of recycling, what stops government from going into it to save our environment?”

Wastes Recyclers

She ended by urging the University of Benin on the significant need to raise the idea of Zero Waste on its priority list.

“I urge the University of Benin to take a leading role amongst citadels of learning across the world championing this Zero Waste initiative. As an institution, UNIBEN can manage its waste by enforcing zero waste practices within the institution domain; laws like “No to single use plastics” and others can perfectly work here to minimize the plastic wastes within the school surroundings.”

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