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Zero Waste and Low Income Communities

by Mohamed Sannoh | 30-09-2021 22:41 recommendations 0

When I look at my community in one of the rural in urban communities in the Western Area of Sierra Leone Capital, Freetown, I see a lot of amazing things. The women doing domestic chores in their homes. The children playing in the only available tight playing ground that is heavily congested with wastes mainly from dumpsites that are flooded all over the community as a result of flooding from the dumpsites to the hearts of the community. The people banking their slum pavements in order to prevent flooding as a result of heavy down pour of rains in August and September every year in Freetown. What you may likely not see if you don’t take a walk are the heavy duty factories and garage that constantly produces plastic water, rubber drinks, can foods and other environmental non-friendly industrial products and carbon monoxide. No one wants a factory, a landfill or a diesel bus garage for a neighbour, but law-makers, factories owners and regulatory agencies knew it all that it was easier to locate a factory in low income communities than in other areas. And poor community residents lack connections and a voice on such issues even though they are affected. Isn’t it injustice and discriminatory?

What you may necessary not see is the effort to manage the environment from wastes and other forms of environmental racism is that you may not detect the 75% poverty rate and the constant abuse of the environment as a result of people striving to fend for themselves and their families. The constant building of ‘pan bodi’ houses to accommodate the everyday migration of people from other parts of the city to this low-cost, low standard communities because the prices of houses kept skyrocketing elsewhere. Prices majority of the people living below five (5) United States Dollars a day won’t afford.

This made me to ponder; how does our consumption brings our trash littering? Why it is that the communities producing the least amount of trash are deep founded in the burden of trash pollution? Who is fighting and protecting low income communities’ rights to live in safe and clean environment? From the above queries, it may interest you to know that while the majority of the people are yet to draw the line between Zero Waste and Low Income Communities, residents in those communities continue to breathe in compromised and contaminated air each day, while those benefiting from the trash productions are not affected.

While I see my day to day undertakings, and often try to reconcile them with what I love doing to promote sustainable and a just environment online and in-person. While I’m privileged to be a Sierra Leonean, able-bodied, and financially stable, many of my neighbours are not. How will they join me in this movement to raise awareness online and in-person while they are not even guaranteed a day meal for them and their families? 

Zero waste has a long way to go. We've become hyper-focused on the issue of packaging and easy swaps when we need to widen the lens to see the very real impact our privilege has on other communities, particularly low-income communities with a majority of poor population. In fact, that plastic bag is probably the very insignificant tip of a massive iceberg. Let's dive into the facts of environmental racism and the zero waste efforts, as well as some ways that those with privilege can act and fight in solidarity with activists already doing the work. 

We must make a change in how we treat the earth, starting with Zero Waste!

Tengbeh Town Community, Freetown.Tengbeh Town Community, Freetown


  • Sierra Leone E-gen Ambassador Mohamed Sannoh


Mohamed Sannoh

  • Mohamed Sannoh says :
    Hey, Joon!
    Thanks for the feedback. It is well noted!
    Posted 01-10-2021 10:36

Joon Mentor

  • Joon Mentor says :
    Hello Mohamed,
    this is your mentor Joon.

    Nicely pointed out the fundamental issue. As idea of Zero Waste came from
    an activist which basic infrastructures and norms that people should take their
    own trash and not litter to public area are set around her. However, in many
    different regions of the world, there are still places needing more awareness.
    Some don't even understand the reason why they should not throw their trash
    to the ground. What we should aim in those region is to educate people on seriousness
    of issues. After it is settled, then we can move on to idea of Zero Waste lifestyle.

    Well read your article, and let's keep up!



    Posted 01-10-2021 03:35

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