Two weeks ago my husband and I went out for dinner and a movie with friends, young friends, so we ended up going to Burger King. The place was full of teenagers and apart from the incredible amount of noise they produced, they also produced a horrifying amount of garbage. Half-eaten food on the floor stepped on and smeared across the tiles, drinks spilt across the table, and bags and wrappers strewn everywhere.
When they finished, they got up and walked away.
Then last week we went to Pamplona for its famous festival, and although it’s more known for running with the bulls, the festival itself is really an opportunity to drink obscene amounts of alcohol in public and let loose. The broken plastic cups, plastic bags and bottles of all sorts made walking a challenge and each morning the city’s garbage crews spent hours and hours sweeping up the plastics disaster.
Often, when people are asked why they care so little about public clutter like this, they answer “that’s why the city hires street sweepers” as if they have no responsibility in maintaining the streets litter-free.
I was reminded of a photo I saw once posted online by Canada’s environmental fighter David Suzuki. The photo showed the sea of plastic that was left in a public park after a fundraising concert for the environment. The anti-consumerist website Make Wealth History talks about this problem providing details about the garbage collected one year after the supposedly environmental-friendly Glastonbury Festival:
Glastonbury picked up 6,500 sleeping bags, 5,500 tents, 3,500 airbeds, 2,200 chairs, 950 rolled mats and 400 gazebos.
Fortunately, most of that material could be donated to refugee sites, but what about the rest of the garbage? If attendees left all this behind, how much plastic did they not bother taking away with them?
All of this got me thinking. Whose responsibility is public clutter? Those of you who are parents, what do you do to ensure that your children clutter the world as little as possible?