Last week I read an article on Nu.nl, a Dutch news site on which I take a look every morning, about a heavily polluted lake in Serbia. It is chock-full of trash, especially plastic of course, and now that the trash threatens to clog the dam’s hydroelectric plant, authorities have ordered the lake to be cleaned immediately. I found the video images accompanying the article simply shocking. So much waste!
Bine and I have been to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, twice in the past years and we immediately noticed how much litter there is everywhere. Really awful. I never understood what motivated people to just throw rubbish on the street or out of a car. Nowadays, aren’t we are all sufficiently informed about what that does to our environment? For example, how long it takes for a plastic bottle (5 to 10 years) or a beer can (almost doesn’t break down at all!) to break down? I find throwing away waste in nature really disgusting antisocial behavior and very irresponsible.
Another thing, cigarette butts on the beach! I’ve smoked a lot myself, for years, and yes, I used to throw my butts on the street sometimes while smoking on my bike or walking somewhere. At the time, however, I had no idea that something as small as a cigarette butt also takes 2 to 12 !! years to break down. Had I known, I would not have done that either. Unfortunately, I wrongly assumed that a cigarette butt consisted of »natural« material (paper, tobacco, filter) and that it was therefore not bad for the environment. But on a beach ….. where people lie down on their towels? No, that never even occurred to me. Simply because of the fact that it is gross to throw them somewhere where people have to sit. I always have something with me (an empty bottle, a paper tissue….) where I »collected« the butts to throw them in a trash can at the end of the day when we went home.
Anyway, after reading the article about the silted lake in Serbia, I had planned to write this week’s blog post about this topic when I happened to read a piece in the Facebook group »Expats in Slovenia« earlier today. Someone wrote about the many litter in Slovenia, but that attention is also often paid to it, for example, by putting up signs/notes by individuals asking not to leave any waste in nature. Now one of the most frequently heard comments from my guests is that they think Slovenia is so clean. And when I compare it with other countries such as Serbia, but also Croatia, the Netherlands, or Greece for example, that is also the case. I can confirm that from my own experience. So I cannot say that Slovenia has a lot of litter.
Yet here too I am increasingly annoyed by the litter that is there, even if it is relatively little in comparison. I see beer cans, plastic bottles, and bags in particular almost everywhere along the roads in the area. Because they are often smaller roads where people mainly drive and not so much walk or cycle, I conclude that this waste is mainly thrown out of cars. Something I don’t understand at all! When you are on your bike or on foot and have to “lug around” an empty can, someone could use that as an excuse. But throw an empty can out of a car !? Is it really such a problem to hold that can for a while or throw it in the back seat and throw it in the trash when you get home?
Because I walk a lot in the area, I may be extra sensitive to it and I have already planned to buy such a stick with a »squeeze hand« at the end to pick up waste. I haven’t gotten around to buying one yet, but I will certainly do so soon! Then I will take a plastic bag with me whenever I go for a walk and pick up the litter on the way. A small effort for me, but a great pleasure for nature and the environment! I’ve done that before, cleaning up litter along the way. Once, when I found an intact plastic bag on the way, for example. I then picked it up and used it to put in the other things I encountered. I did wash my hands thoroughly when coming home though 😉
Anyway, I really hope that more and more people will become aware of this problem and luckily more and more attention is being paid to it in the media. But as the well-known Dutch saying says: A better world, start with yourself! For the sake of convenience, I assume for the moment that my readers are not the type of persons who throw waste away in nature;), but even if you don’t do it yourself, it doesn’t hurt to take a walk around the neighborhood every now and clean up some litter along the way :). And remember another well-known saying: Lead by example ;). Good luck and thank you on behalf of Mother Nature!