On September 15, 2018, more than 150 countries celebrated World Cleanup Day by participating in a massive cleanup action gathering volunteer individuals and groups to clean up litter and mismanaged waste from our beaches, rivers, forests, and streets.
The event was organized by the Let’s Do It Foundation along with key strategic partners. Their aim with this movement is to raise awareness about the global waste pollution problem, empower individuals in the participating countries to take action towards a clean and healthy world, and develop technological tools to map the world’s mismanaged waste and visualize the waste pollution hotspots
Everyone interested could register as a volunteer on the World Cleanup Day website. Every volunteer could download an app that indicates the areas that needed to be cleaned up within their neighborhood so they didn’t have to go very far. A month later is it very sad for me to see those spots that have been cleaned up in my country with so much effort in the same state they were before the clean-up happened? In simple words: We have Failed our Environment.
Why is this happening?
We are thought the importance to keep our houses clean and out of tourist sites as well but what about our neighborhood and national parks? There seems to be no self-awareness regarding keeping the environment clean. It is alright to keep our house clean but that does not mean dumping house trash in the neighborhood or in national parks. Those national parks are also visited by tourists. The situation is just embarrassing in some countries.
Why has it come this far?
developed countries have very strong regulations regarding trash. The rest is confronted with this problem but have no effective trash handling regulation or best practices in place. Sure there are countries where the people responsible for throwing trash get fined. There are two scenarios I can think of:
First, the fine is so low that people simply pay it but continue having the same behavior. The second scenario is that people simply don’t pay the fine. A consequence of this is that they may get held back at the airport when they decide to take a flight but let’s be honest those people who are dumping trash often don’t have the money to travel.
The final scenario is that since the risk of getting caught is low people take the risk and do it. It often happens that the local pickup trash service doesn’t work effectively and people get paid to deliver the trash to the landfill. What often happens is that people keep the money or dump the trash somewhere else. I would like to believe that the problem exists because of a lack of awareness. There are people who are aware of the current problems and are doing their best to improve the situation but it seems like the majority of people are not fully aware of the problems and consequences.
What can we do?
We could organize ourselves and find volunteers that monitor parks and forests. Already people are starting pictures on social media of places inundated with trash. While our eyes are being opened only posting pictures and reactions on social media is not sufficient. So far, the pictures and videos on social media served as evidence to report those people in the case where they were caught in the act. But without organizing ourselves and planning ahead, it is impossible to make something happen. We should realize that the majority of cases when there is evidence is because someone happens to be there by chance. There is no constant monitoring which gives these people the chance to dump their trash. However, let’s not forget that we have an ally, modern technology, that makes monitoring a lot easier. When we decide to use modern technology we need to organize ourselves, prepare a budget, and evaluate the costs.
We also need to think more about preventive measures, and solutions to the problem. We should not wait for the government to take action. But what can be done? What could work is giving those who are guilty of a heavy fine and taking their vehicle away. It may seem drastic but unfortunately, stricter regulation is needed for it to sink into people’s minds. Are environmental regulations a priority on the government’s agenda? No. Can we change it? Yes! Send letters to your local representatives, organize awareness sessions, and invite government officials to these sessions. If we make more noise on the matter it could reach the policy maker’s table.
What do you think? How was the aftermath of World Cleanup Day in your country? Feel free to leave your comments in the section below.