Friday, July 24, 2015

The Pitfall of the NIMBY Syndrome

by Anton Antonio
July 23, 2015

When I published a series of blogs about the Canadian garbage mess, a lot of social media netizens, particularly on Facebook, reacted positively… they all agreed that transboundary dumping of garbage is not right.  The chorus of repulsion (meaning: a feeling of intense distaste and disgust) could easily translate to a NIMBY Syndrome. 

“Sometimes we come across words that we don’t understand, don’t make sense or even strange to us.  One such word is “nimby”.  Well… the term “nimby” is actually not a word but an acronym which stands for “Not In My Back Yard”.  As it progressed in usage, NIMBY became a descriptive term to express acceptance of the need for something but this something is something one doesn’t want near one’s home… therefore, not in my back yard!  Nimbies are persons who would normally say:  “You could have or do anything you like so long as it’s nowhere near me.  Environmental advocates and activists are often called “nimbies” simply because they oppose infrastructure projects that violate environmental laws and principles… especially land use-related ones.  This term is really a misnomer for an environmentalist because a true pro-environment person will never say he “approves of something, an activity or event so long as it’s nowhere near him”… a genuine environmentalist will categorically say he disapproves of something… here, there or anywhere on planet Earth.  NIMBY also applies to a group of people with common aspirations typically living within the same vicinity.  It is a term to describe a social phenomenon that occurs when a significant number of people in a social, geographical or political group are opposing a future or an on-going event.  The term has negative connotation typically applied to an opposing group by the approving group of such event.  It is often called the NIMBY syndrome.” (Antonio, 2014)

“On June 2013, fifty (50) forty-foot container vans of used heterogeneous (meaning: diverse in character and content) waste materials began to arrive in Manila, Philippines.  The container vans from Canada actually included used plastic bags, bottles, newspaper, household garbage and used Canadian adult diapers.  This month (July 2015), some of the container vans were transported to a landfill in Capas, Tarlac for disposition.  Although some of the Canadian garbage has already been dumped, the Local Government Units (Provincial Government and Municipality of Capas) in Tarlac were successful in stopping the dumping of the remaining trash.  And now, the Philippine government is looking for alternative landfills in Luzon to bury the Canadian garbage.” (Antonio, 2015)

Can the pro-environment advocates and activists, on-line rebels from social media, government officials from Tarlac LGUs, and concerned citizen who openly opposed the dumping of Canadian garbage in Capas be called “nimbies”?  Yes, they can.  It is important to note, however, that the term NIMBY also has negative and selfish connotations… a dire pitfall.  It could mean that these “nimbies” oppose the dumping of the Canadian garbage only if it were to be dumped in their backyard… but will welcome the idea of dumping it elsewhere in the country.  The ideal mindset should be NO DUMPING OF GARBAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES with the remedy of DUMPING THE GARBAGE BACK TO CANADA… it’s their garbage anyway.  If we, Filipinos, cannot embrace this mindset, we will condemn ourselves to the pitfall of the NIMBY syndrome.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014).  “The NIMBY Syndrome”. Retrieved on July 23, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Who are to Blame for the Canadian Garbage Mess?” Retrieved on July 23, 2015 from

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