Plastic pollution: A curse we must stomach no more

Undated image of a lioness squeezing a plastic bottle. [Photo/ Courtesy]

Scanning through Ian Mackenzie-Vincent’s ‘Plastic Pollution Pandemic’ Facebook page, one can easily pick his zealous activism against a huge problem.

In one of the many of his posts, Mackenzie shows an unusual image of a lioness in a park.

You would expect to see the carnivore devouring on an impala, but the image shows a 500mg plastic water bottle squeezed between the animal’s jaws. 

The questions that strike the mind at the moment are; did the animal swallow it? Who would dump a bottle inside a park full of herbs and meat-eating wild animals? Who did they expect to collect the bottle? The lions or the gazelles?

The mind-boggling questions are exactly what Mackenzie addresses in all his advocacy platforms, ranging from social media postings to book writing.  

In yet another post, the 69-year-old shows a fish-shaped metal grilled structure filled with plastic bottles on a waterfront bringing out the damage done to the aqua-life. A different image carried with a story on plastic pollution captures an unfortunate situation of plastic waste washed ashore.

In most of the posts, Mackenzie captions them as “A cursed plaque within our midst” to express the global menace to the environment and the little efforts polluters are putting to save nature.

In his fictional book titled Little Heroes, Mackenzie, who previously dealt with crocodiles at Mamba Village in Mombasa, brings out two siblings; Aziza, 15, and Bakari, aged 12, carrying out a school project on climate change and plastic pollution.

The two declare war on single-use plastics and their works get covered in the media.

Their activities on environment advocacy attract the attention of a wealthy European couple manufacturing plastics in Nairobi.

Aziza and Bakari’s activism on pollution is an outright threat to the couple’s plastic business, and immediately they plot to have the children silenced.

Ian McKenzie interview on April 4, 2021 at Lang'ata Link in Karen, with Kenya youngest environment warrior Ellyanne Wanjiku, during a book signing event. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

“This story targets the young adults because no one cares about what is going to happen to our children after all these destructions to Mother Nature,” says Mackenzie.

“A lot of people think if China or America create all the pollution in the atmosphere, it is them who will suffer the climate change, but that’s not the case. All the pollution is blown around the whole world and the entire globe suffers the pollution,” said Mackenzie when we caught up with him at Lang’ata Link area in Nairobi’s Karen.

In Makenzie’s second book, The Climate of Change, whose setting is in Kenya, 20 most industrialised countries want Aziza and Bakari assassinated to stop a conference the two are organising with the help of Kenya’s president - bringing together 170 nations united against the climate crisis.

He blames the pollution on greed and corruption in governments muted about industrialists producing plastics.

“Microplastics are all over the world because they are being carried by the wind. We are putting eight million tonnes of plastics into the seas every year. A man is destroying everything they can possibly destroy,” he adds.

A science study report titled Evaluating Scenarios Toward Zero Plastic Pollution published in 2016, indicated that out of the total plastic produced, only 9 per cent get recycled, with 79 per cent ending up in landfills, or dumping sites.

A different study report titled Breaking Plastic Wave estimated that the number of plastics entering the oceans every year will nearly triple to 29 million tonnes a year by 2040 if nothing is done to stem the pollutant’s flow. A more startling science report by a team of international researchers showed that microplastics - tiny plastic particles - are present inside human placentas, posing a risk to foetal health and development. 

The findings published in Environmental International found a total 12 micro-plastic fragments in four of the six examined placentas. 

Kenya’s ban on the use of plastic bags in 2017 may not yield desired results in the fight against plastic pollution.

In his pursuit to target young adults and children to champion the need to protect the environment, Mackenzie is working with Ellyane Wanjiku, a 10-year-old environmentalist. Wanjiku, the founder of Children With Nature, is an Eco-Warrior Winner and has been nominated as Kenya’s Youngest Shujaa (hero) by the State.