By Ahmet Abdulaziz……….

Summer in Cyprus means picnics and enjoying the beaches. So with the commencement of summer we automatically start planning for Sunday picnics.  But we usually ignore the state of uncleanliness of our picnic points.

With the start of summer we come across news and photographs in the media about how the municipalities and volunteers are dealing with trash from the picnic spots.

We express our gratitude to the municipalities and the volunteers for making our picnic spots more enjoyable and bearable. But is this the correct procedure of keeping the picnic spots clean?

My opinion is that by cleaning the picnic spots we promote the culture of “you throw the trash and we will collect it”. This is how we have made our people accustomed to throw the trash here and there. Although the environment department do appeal to people to keep everywhere clean,  I do not think that such appeals have made any effect on our general practice of throwing the garbage everywhere, more so at the picnic spots.

By putting a garbage bin at the picnic spots, I think the municipality do contribute the culture of “throwing the garbage”. By putting garbage bins here and there and then expecting everyone to throw the garbage inside is not proper. But I first ask myself why it is not proper? What we see is that most of the picnickers will throw their garbage near the garbage bin. Many more leave the garbage just where they had been sitting.

Then, at the end of the day, the municipality and the volunteers come and collect the garbage. This practice shows that the general public believe that their attitude has been accepted by the authorities, and nobody is going to say anything to them if they make the picnic spot dirty.

But I usually have a totally different approach to everything. I see the garbage bins as the real problem. Garbage bins do promote the idea of “throw the garbage”, first inside, then around the garbage bin. If we take the garbage bins out of the scene, and promote the idea of “take back whatever you had brought with you”, that would really change the situation.

However,  it further gives rise to the question of how to make people take back with them what they had brought? I think that’s not a very difficult problem to solve. The same municipality should form a force of volunteers, who would fine anybody leaving garbage anywhere. There must be officers and workers, who would impose fines on the spot, and enforce the practice of “taking back the garbage”.

This would help the municipalities in collecting the garbage  from the picnic spots, and also for cleaning the picnic spots. They do manage to generate teams of volunteers to clean the picnic spots and beaches. I am sure there are organisations who can raise teams of volunteers to act  as enforcing officers at picnic spots.

Our prevailing practice does prove that we do need to educate people, by molding their social behaviour. This cannot be taught in our schools, because for that we must be having a Japanese system of education, where all school-going children every day clean the classroom, brush and mop the floor before leaving the school. Unfortunately when our schools and system fails to teach discipline to young children, the grown up spoilt people can only be taught by strict actions.