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Ugochi Oluigbo: 21 Tips For a Greener & Better Nigeria

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The entire world is struggling for a solution to climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other environmental relevant bodies have come up with several ideas and mechanisms to reduce bad gases,responsible for climate change. While they become agreeable by all parties, going green and living an eco-friendly lifestyle has been advocated as a workable means of having a planet living in harmony. Many countries and individuals are beginning to change their attitude to the environment -except of course those who argue that climate change isn’t real – and Nigeria/Nigerians have to make changes too, for our direct environment, and for global impact.

I have lived in Nigeria all my life, and being green isn’t by any means easy, but I’m practising, and getting better at it. Presently,Nigeria ranks 134 out 178 on the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, and we can increase our ranking by doing some of these simple things, today and going forward.

1. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Fresh water on our planet is reducing at an alarming rate, and getting this water to run through your tap, uses lots of resources, especially energy. So please cut down on how much of it you waste. Water is actually finite.

2. Recycle and reuse everything you can. Try to use a product up to its shelf life. Get creative, and upcycle products/items. An old wine bottle could look good as a decorative item in your living room. Think about how else to use it before you trash it.

3. Hold on to your waste till you find a suitable trash can. This one… War Against Indiscipline has to come back for people to comply. It’s just normal for us to through it out from the window, like nothing happened. Please don’t litter Naija. Learn to hold on to your waste, and you will gradually get used to trashing it right.

4. Reuse your plastic bags. Store them for other purposes if you have them already. Banning them like California just did, might be the way to go, but till we get there, reuse the ones you have consciously amassed. Speaking of bags, buy reusable shopping bags. Carry along your personal shopping bag. Even those paper bags could be just get pretty annoying sometimes, especially the ones distributed at weddings. If you’re offered plastic bags, jump am pass, dazzallll! Carry along a reusable water bottle, forget pure water and bottled water. Plastic takes over a 500 to 1000 years to break down. They also end up in our waters, threatening the existence of aquatic life.

5. Turn OFF the lights when you leave a room. This is very easy to do. You get to save a little of the energy Nigeria has struggled to generate. Unplug electronics when not in use, this helps save energy, and keeps your appliances safe. Turn the AC off and open windows for natural air. Natural air needs no energy to get in. Set your computer to hibernate (or sleep) after 30 minutes or less of no use.

6. Car pool; have children in same school go in one vehicle instead of several. Same as workers going to same area. This reduces the amount of emission single cars could have added to our already pressured climate. In other situations, use public transportation. Enter BRT, El RUFAI bus or whatever your State has offered. I find this very difficult to do also. Very very difficult. We all want a better transport system, and this change will most definitely happen.

7. Buy energy-saving light bulbs, popularly called “white bulbs”. Fake ones are everywhere now, getting an original that lasts has become serious wahala, and really discouraging. Anyway, just try!

9. Connect to one borehole, instead of digging several (if you absolutely need one). Some people have portable water in their area o, but still choose to drill, as a big man. Land subsidence or collapse caused by excessive and unregulated drilling is real o!

10. Buy 2nd hand products aka okirika, bend-down-boutique or even “tusher” from a thrift store. Doesn’t make you cheap or a bush person. You could make good combo, and look good. You know na…..Yaba, Ahia Ohuru, or just ask a dealer to come over with some. That way you comfortably shop in the privacy of your own home.

11. Defrost your freezer regularly, that way, it will perform more efficiently.

12. Use water efficient shower heads or the good old bucket and scooping cup. Remember that short story I told you about fresh water? Scroll to number 1.

13. Ask to have your name taken off junk mail lists! Takes time and power to sort junk and clear them. In the same vein, print or write on both sides of a piece of paper, better still, do not print. More paper wasted, means more trees chopped down. Don’t print account balance from ATM, then dump the paper and walk away. Just view your balance on-screen. This is one can really vex me. All that litter below the machine is so unnecessary.

14. Don’t burn trash and don’t pour them out when it rains. When I was a child growing up in Aba, I often wondered what happened to all the smoke that goes up when we burn, now I know.

15. Clean your environment on sanitation days (e.g Keep Aba Clean days) instead of just chilling at home or playing soccer on the streets. Sometimes I also do this, but I am changing.

16. Only wash when washer is full, not with one bra or boxer in it. Air dry clothing. We have plenty sunshine.

17 . Do not waste food. World population is increasing by the minute, and more people will demand more food. Don’t waste the one you have. A small holder farmer made it happen, and same farmer might sleep hungry,just to sell his produce to you, for money.

18. Plant a tree. Give seedlings as gifts, like back in the days, when couples got nkwu(palm fruit) seedling as wedding gifts, to be planted as a symbol of growth, prosperity and fertility. Used to be common in Igbo marriages. Don’t have space to plant, take it to the village.

19. Turn your generator off sometimes. Manage without power in this our Naija. Go for solar or other renewable sources if you can.

20. Don’t use your weaves/attachments once and trash. Reuse or give away. The way you vex when you ‎see a strand of your expensive Brazilian, Peruvian or Funmi hair on your brush of floor, use same vex to dash someone when you don’t need it anymore.

21. Have fewer children, stop over-population.

Feel free to add yours to this list.

I am not by any means perfect at doing all these; but I am at least doing something. New research shows Lagos will start feeling climate change impacts by 2029. This is so close compared to other countries, but aint we feeling it already? Don’t say “Nigeria contributes just a little to climate change, therefore my action won’t count”.

Remember every local action brings a desperately needed global solution. Join me, let’s keep the going-green discussion going.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |Kadettmann

Ugochi Oluigbo, is an Eco Journo, who has reported extensively on environmental issues in Nigeria. She has won several journalism awards including UNEP Young Environmental Journalist and UNFCCC CDM-African Radio Contest. She is a fellow of the Climate Change Media Partnership, and a 2013 Future Awards in Journalism nominee. She is passionate about keeping our planet safe for future generations. Ugochi has hosted Tv shows like Customs Duty, You Think You Know TV game show and Consumer Watchdog.  She is the Editor of Eco Nigeria, an environmental news website. Follow @econigeria www.econigeria.com

11 Comments

  1. Busarni

    October 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

    As far as i am concerned, in as much as the US, China , Australia and the rest refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change issue is a dead end issue. Government need to do more as well, is Nigeria as a country implementing some or all of the flexible mechanism that the KP uses to curb climate change issues by stabilizing GHG and CO2 emission ?
    Yes, we should do our part but the government of developed countries have to do more; a country like china feels the carbon ceilings stipulated by the KP will impede their economic growth. No nation wants to be economically weak my dear. Truth be told, the industrialization of the 90’s brought about the climate change issue we are facing today,as far as i am concerned the developed nations should take the first step (Annex 1 countries) .
    Climate change issue is riddled with international politics be it in the form of international emission trading, CDM, carbon tax etc.
    Sorry for my long epistle,i am an energy management person. all the same nice article.

    • TO AVID BLOGGER

      October 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      ARE YOU SURE YOU’VE LIVED IN NIGERIA ALL YOUR LIFE? So why are you telling me to turn off the light when NEPA is doing it for me?

      ALSO why do you ask me to turn off the water when brushing???? there is no running water in most of Nigeria!

      BEFORE YOU DUB AND TRANSMIT WESTERN MODELS, try to test them on their new location: fake ajebo… yeye de smell!

  2. Gods child

    October 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Your number 21 is so on point please tell all this silly Hausa people….P.S I’m not being tribalistic I’m a northernern myself and you don’t want to know how many siblings I have….cheeei

  3. Ugochi

    October 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

    You are absolutely right about rich countries just closing their eyes to the issue. It breaks my heart to know that our children might not have a healthy planet to enjoy because of some mistakes made by same developed countries. I just do my part, at least to ensure Nigeria is livable.

  4. Bobby

    October 3, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I do not agree with number 6 at all. With the level of bad transport system in the country. Not every can enter that BRT or El-rufia bus. Me sef I stay in Abj and with the way I see people jam packed like sardines inside these buses tufiakwa, it’s something I pray never to experience. Lie lie. We need a well mapped out transport system only that number 6 can be achieved but right now no way.

  5. Bobby

    October 3, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Sorry I meant “not everybody “

  6. Julie Billart

    October 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Nice write up, I wish @least 60% Nigerians would read this and adopt the habit

  7. douglas

    October 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    addtionally I don’t fancy the idea of establishing an idustrial plant in cities of nigeria,I think industries should be in outskirt areas and not around residential areas to avoid people inhaling carbonmonoxide which is not good to health.again the way nigerians urinate in public place is crazy we don’t have provitions for a clean and condusive public toilets.I discovered this issue when I was passing along oba akran road ikeja lagos where I saw a group of people urinating together in a particular spot I called it nothing but when I walk closer to that spot I swaer I couldn’t breath until I fully passed that spot cos the bad adore was to chronic.we really need climate change.thank u very much madam ugochi oluigbo for your concern over climate change.

  8. Sparkle-B Makeover

    October 6, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Beautiful write up. Very insightful….

  9. yourstrulyblogposts.blogspot.com

    October 6, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Our Nigeria would be better and greener if everyone adhered to the above. But, do you really think it is possible?

  10. Natalie Adams

    June 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I agree with you. We should for sure dream for an eco-friendly lifestyle. Buy energy, just try for some renewable sources.Many energy solutions are also available in the market.Thank You

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