On Independence Day, I got out of the car to admire a particularly fine piece of painting in Duquesne. A young man came up to me and proudly told me that he was responsible. I congratulated him on the work, but pointed to some discarded bottles lying in the drain beneath his artistry, and said, “But THAT spoils the effect.” He looked and looked, but could not see what I was pointing at. I had to tell him I meant the litter.
Months later, just the other day, I was driving down the east coast, and stopped to look at Soubise beach. A man, seeing my camera, asked whether I was taking pictures. “Yes,” I said, “But what of?” He couldn’t tell, even after I had pointed out the trail of discarded plastic bottles along the shoreline path. “Oh that,” he said cheerfully, “That doesn’t matter. We throw it in the sea.”
“And then what happens?”
“I don’t really know.”
I explained that plastic breaks down into ever-finer particles, which eventually combine with plankton, which in turn are eaten by fish (which we eat), and which produce much of the oxygen we breathe. And that these particles are of substances not known in nature, are toxic, and probably never break down completely.
I could have added that at the rate mankind is going, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by the middle of the century. The man seemed suitably concerned; but, like the youth in Duquesne, he had obviously not ‘seen’ the garbage before it was pointed out.
I moved on to Marquis. Same thing; a man asked if I was taking pictures.
“Yes, but what of?”
Again, I had to point out the debris – yet again, it was mostly plastic.
“Oh that … the sea brings it in.”
So are we to believe that garbage is thrown into the sea at Soubise, for it to make its way to Marquis, where it makes landfall? Wouldn’t it be easier and more pleasant for all to put it in a bin?
After that, I walked along the road for a bit. A man spoke to me: usual question, usual answer. He, at least, had noticed the garbage (for it was everywhere). Nothing would improve, he said, until people were fined for dropping it.
So here were two utterly unsurprising conclusions. Most people do not ‘see’ litter; and the way to deal with it is to ‘hit people in the pocket’.
The law has been in place for eleven months. So why is nothing happening? Are we content, in the age of zika, just to let it accumulate? At what point would it become ‘too much?
Grenada Green Group