Source: <Picture by Iwan Putuhena>
"I see a lot of people who love their jobs. I see some garbage collectors smiling as they go about their work." (Willie Stargell)
Have you ever walked down a street and smell something that makes your nose reach up high with avoidance? How does it feel when you walk next to a river and see packages of waste floating along the flow? Does it bother you to see simple houses built among all the trashes? Can you imagine if you live there?
Trash has been a big issue everywhere, but people don’t really care about it. I can notice it because I have travelled to places and from those trips I can compare each place with how people deal with the trash every day.
My home country, Indonesia. This is the most irritating place I’ve ever been. I think there is a low self-realization of trash bins in this country. I will tell you about Jakarta, since that’s where I came from. As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is divided into several districts with several classes of people. However, I have never seen a place in Jakarta that is clean from the trash. Sometimes when I walk, I see people throwing away their cans or their snacks’ packages on the street. I usually stop and shake my head. There are trash bins everywhere, and they choose to act as if they can’t read. When I am going by car, it’s not rare to see people throwing away tissues or those cans and snack wraps from the window, as if there’s an imaginary trash bin in the middle of the road.
When the raining season comes, guess what? Flood is coming to town. People will be so mad that they blame the government for not taking care of the city. But whose fault is this, really? Do they think that the trash they throw will vanish in a snap? NO! They stay on the street, get swept away by the city sweepers (who also do not throw them away but store them right inside the holes between streets and ditches), and stay there until the rain comes. From there, they start floating and clogging the ditches, and soon, where does the water have to go? BINGO. The streets! And that’s where the flood begins.
During the flood, do you know what may come? MANY DISEASES.
Diarrhea. Why? Because during the flood, the access to decent water is gone. Think about the poor people who live in Indonesia. In Canada, where I live now, water is everywhere. I can even drink water from the tap without even getting sick. But in Indonesia, people are not so lucky. We don’t have fresh water in the city. We have to buy gallons of mineral water in stores. Don’t even think of drinking from the tap water. Some people, who are not so lucky, can’t afford it. So they build wells near their houses and take water from those sources. Imagine when flood comes and drowns those wells. Where do they get water to drink? So here comes diarrhea, and it spreads quickly.
Dengue Fever. It is commonly heard in Indonesia, because there are thousands of cases there. The fever can kill people, and it is brought by Aedes aegypti mosquitos. Thank God as long as I stayed in Indonesia, this fever never attacked me, because this is very dangerous. Do you know where the mosquitos come from? The pool of water. Which pool of water? The ones you throw. The cans. When the raining season comes, the rain will fill up the cans and that’s where the mosquitos breed.
Those are the two main diseases caused by flood. And let me remind you again, why is there flood? Yup, the trash.
It doesn’t happen only in Indonesia. It happens everywhere. Even in Canada, I can still people throwing away trash and walk away. There have been signs of throwing trash outside the trash bin but still some people choose to forget how to read. You think you only throw one can a day. Well, let’s collect it for a year. You’ve got yourself almost 400 cans. And you’re not the only one. Let’s say there are a hundred thousand people who think the same way. How many cans will be collected after a year? After ten years?
Not only the flood I am afraid of, but also the impact to the environment. Cans, Styrofoam and plastics are commonly found on streets and sometimes on fields. Do you know that it will take years for the soil to decompose them? And their substances might harm the soil too, making it less fertile. Soon the soil won’t be good enough to be planted on, and the plants are going to be worse.
Also some people choose to throw the trash into the ocean. When I last visited Ancol (a beach in Jakarta), I couldn't see anything but trash floating. Looks like they have replaced the fish with trash. I don't get it, because it used to be clean and popular. Now that many people come during the days and the weekends, they set picnic spots and throw the trash straight to the ocean. They think the ocean is just a huge storage bin that can swallow all the trash. Soon the life in the ocean is no longer suitable for the ecosystem.
Have you realized that simple things such as trash can actually matter to us? Have you heard the bell inside you, crying for a change?
I know old habits die hard. If you are used to throw away trash without feeling guilty, you better start now. Don’t wait until somebody else does it, because they won’t. Be the first to change. If you can’t find any trash bins nearby, keep it for a while. It won’t kill you right away. Imagine if you start caring today, and you start to inspire others. This is possible. Maybe this can be solved. Maybe someday when I come home, the atmosphere will be different. Or is it so hard just to put your trash into the trash bin? Are you not annoyed enough by the piles of trash?
Let’s stop. Let’s create a change, hoping to get a better place to live in the future. Because if we don’t this will get worse, and someday it will be too late. Don’t look around trying to wait for somebody. Be the change. Together we can, together we will!
By: Amanda Inez (firstname.lastname@example.org) (twitter: @amandainezz)