Jonathan Olanlokun says people didn’t take his fight against waste seriously until he started wearing the costume.
In Nigeria, environmental waste poses a major challenge, especially in urban regions.
But on the streets of Osogbo in Osun State, Jonathan Olanlokun’s superpower is his determination to make a difference in his community.
Dressed as Spider-Man, he picks up rubbish to improve his local environment. He says the costume gets him noticed and draws attention to the problem of litter on the streets.
Jonathan started his environmental work in 2004. He began cleaning up the town and educating people on how they can look after the environment.
“But more people still don’t take me serious and I feel sad about this but that wouldn’t stop me from doing my good work,” he says.
“I kept doing it until 2021 when I started wearing the Spider-Man costume and I started having positive results. People started taking me serious and am happy about this. There’s joy in me, and people are now more concerned about their environment than before.”
‘I want a society that is free of waste’
One major challenge Nigeria faces is a lack of adequate infrastructure and resources for waste collection and disposal. Many local authorities struggle to provide basic waste management services, leading to uncollected rubbish piling up in streets, open spaces, and drainage channels.
“What I do is so important because I still wake up in the morning and I still see waste everywhere and I want to see a society that is free of waste,” Jonathan says.
Environmentalist Anthony Adejuwon says Jonathan is setting an example for others and the government.
“I’m so glad when I hear and see him do his own thing, in his own little way. And for me, this is commendable,” Adejuwom explains.
“We cannot all wait until governments, do something for us, we should begin to even teach the government the right thing by ensuring that we take that step that government itself can now emulate.”
Jonathan’s work has also gone down well with local people in Osogbo.
“I thank this man because of what he’s doing. He’s making our surroundings clean,” says Jimoh Oyelade, a retired civil servant.
Every year, the United Nations estimates that approximately 11.2 billion tons of solid waste are gathered worldwide.
It presents significant threats to ecosystems and human well-being, while also accounting for about 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Watch the video above to see how Jonathan cleans up his community.