There has never been a better time to call for a cleaner society than now when the impacts of climate change are ravaging the world.
An estimated 11.2 billion tons of solid waste are collected annually worldwide, according to the United Nations — and this poses a serious risk to ecosystems and human health, as well as contributing to about five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
To mitigate the effects of climate change, some experts have called for the emergence of community climate champions who are solving environmental problems all over the world — no matter how little.
Jonathan Olakunle, an environmental activist, appears to fit that bill as he embarks on a quest to stop improper waste disposal in Osogbo, Osun state.
Clad in a Spider-Man costume, Olakunle goes around the state picking trash from drainages, market places and anywhere else he sees waste lying around.
“Every neighbourhood in Nigeria needs someone like me, I am Nigeria’s Spider-Man,” Olakunle told the BBC.
“I am not happy with the way I see waste littering everywhere, it has become our normal way of life, which isn’t supposed to be. I started an environmental cleanup exercise in 2004. I hate dirty environments and I always clean my environment.
Jonathan Olakunle believes that if everybody does their part in properly disposing waste, we could have a cleaner and healthier environment.
“One day I extended what I do in my home outside to the street and that’s how the whole thing began.”
He said he chose the costume because he wants to draw attention and let people know that they can also be heroes of the environment.
“The reason why I’m putting on the Spider-Man costume is to draw people’s attention because when I’m on mufti and I go out for my clean up exercise and I tell people to join me, majority of the people that I meet don’t want to be part of the exercise,” he said.
“So it became a plan to put on the Spider-Man costume so that it can get the attention of the people. So that they will love what I’m doing, so that they will also become a hero.”
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Nigeria’s @SpiderMan is on a serious mission to clean up the streets – of litter. He leaves the crime-fighting to his colleague… 😉🕷🦸🏽♂️@Marvel | @NigerianSpider1 | #SpiderMan | https://t.co/qrcbMJtlMm pic.twitter.com/tH0BE5vUO6
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) April 18, 2022
In a post on his Twitter handle, Olakunle said the superhero persona projects him as a protector of the environment.
The activist called for stricter regulation on waste disposal and advocated frequent sanitation inspections while noting that a number of common diseases in Nigeria are caused by an unclean environment.
“We should stop the belief that we are dirty people, there is so much litter in our society today because there is no regulation. You no longer see sanitation officials visiting homes on a regular basis,” he tweeted.
“There are cases of Lassa fever, cholera, malaria. If everyone of us can keep our environment clean, we will be free of these diseases.
“Nigeria needs to be safe for all, we need to stop open dumping. Don’t dispose your waste in the drainage system. We need to protect the ocean and protect its inhabitants.
“To have an environment that we would be proud of is everybody’s business.”