23 September, 2017. Samoa – The Envirobassadors are at it again. With continued concern over Samoa’s environment, the team of students from Faatuatua College have undertaken a challenge to prohibit the use of plastic bags in the country.
According to Envirobassador Director, Jorim Philips, the team plans has to collect 10,000 signatures to support the movement.
Speaking with Samoa Planet, he said, “The Envirobassadors’ search for signatures started at the beach. As I was swimming, I found a plastic bag in the ocean…then another and then another. I was shocked.”
“When I went on the sand I found a bunch of plastic bottles lying around the beach. That’s when I knew something had to be done.”
According to Mr. Philips, the people of Samoa need to be aware of their impacts on the environment.
He explained, “We create far more waste than we should and therefore we need to take responsibility and help evoke change in our community. Because I lead an environmental group, I thought that it would be another great project to work on.”
On weekends or after school, the Envirobassadors take time out to add more signatures to their petition. Walking around in the hot sun can be uncomfortable, but for Mr. Philips and the team, it’s a small sacrifice they are willing to make for the environment.
He added, “At the moment, we have around 400 signatures. We are trying to get as many as we can, by next year. But we hope to get 10,000 signatures if possible.”
The petition also includes a proposed limit to plastic-bottle pollution, by encouraging companies that manufacture plastic bottles, to recycle used bottles.
“Our handout says ‘Ban plastic bags and bottles in Samoa’, but our goal is to ban plastic bags and get plastic bottling companies to recycle bottles. The banning of plastic bottles is a last resort.”
“I plan on taking the signatures and our arguments to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the Honourable Fiame Naomi Mataafa. From there we hope it will be taken to Parliament, and discussed for a proposed law-draft.”
Each member of the Envirobassadors has a written information and petition sheet. The team has also created an online petition form; however from the advice of a lawyer, Mr Philips was told that online signatures had a higher chance of getting dismissed, compared to written signatures.
“Saving our environment doesn’t start and stop with the petition, it continues by leading more sustainable lives. We need as much help and support from the community of Samoa.”
The Envirobassadors also host monthly ‘cleanups’ where the team collects rubbish in the town or urban areas. The team is open for any individuals wanting to join them, in their quest for a cleaner Samoa.
For more information on the petition to ban plastic bags, Mr. Philips can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org . For updates on future clean-ups, follow the team on Facebook @envirobassadorsSAMOA.
Reporter with Samoa Planet.