Friday, January 2, 2009


I read the sign board as I tucked my banana and orange peels into the cabinet in the front panel of the car. It read, "You are entering plastic free zone". I saw that sign earlier when we had been to Chamundi hill, Mysore. I looked at the ghat littered with polythene bags and chips packets. Same sign again last week on our way to Ooty, on the ghat again. It was better than in Mysore. I saw fewer polythene bags and fewer chips and pop-corn packets. Nonetheless, they were there.

I honestly do not know where to begin. At the moment, there is a surge of emotions gushing out of various corners of my mind and heart.

Educated citizens littering the streets with waste paper, tea cups, plastic packets, fruit peels and what not.

People in offices dumping solid waste in bins meant only for paper napkins.

Residents and small business people dumping domestic and commercial waste in unused land belonging to strangers.

The list is endless...

I was baffled (not for the first time though!) when a well dressed teenager crumpled the news paper on the flight to Bombay and pushed into the front seat pocket. The plane was supposed to fly elsewhere after that and newspaper was not meant to be crumpled. I still do not understand (after having quality discussions with my parents and elders) why only a few people are sensitive to issues like environmental cleanliness. Why majority of the population whines about how lazy the government is and yet nothing is done about immediate cleanliness.

Coming back to the sign boards in the ghats, there is a reason they are there. And unless we respect the intent, we are going to lose the very few places of interest we have here in our country. We are not rich enough to enhance and maintain our natural beauties. We have a long way to go to have anything like Fiordland of New Zealand or the Jurong Bird Park of Singapore. But we can surely preserve Botanical Garden in Ooty or Lal Bagh in Bangalore by not littering. It is not as difficult as it sounds. It is as simple as carrying a trash bag on our way to public places and using it instead of littering. We can safely dump it in the trash can back home.

Again I am lost. I do not really know what to write. The question is, "Is writing really going to solve this problem?"