Lets Talk About It

Celebrate the 50th anniversary without trash

I am grateful to the government for initiating a program to clean up The Bahamas as we head toward celebrating our independence anniversary in July 2023. However, I wonder would people still continue to throw trash out of car and bus windows, ignore the dirty area in their own yard, leave piles of trash on beaches, and stand on bunches of little papers at ATM machines while withdrawing or depositing cash.

Why do people litter?

In the article “The Real Reason People Litter – and How You Can Help” in the Potomac Conservancy (author unknown) that “Laziness and carelessness have bred a culture of habitual littering. Carelessness has made people throw rubbish anywhere without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Many people do not realize or underestimate the negative impacts of littering on the environment.” I selected that quote because, although it is speaking about parks in Maryland, USA, it reflects a similar attitude in our country.

While cleaning our country for our independence celebration, I am hoping that the cleanliness mindset still remains. But I have major concerns. Would people stop throwing bottles, paper and cans out of vehicle windows.

Would people still dump trash on vacant properties?

While driving behind a car a few days ago on Cable Beach, I witnessed someone in the car in front of me tossing a bear bottle out the window. It landed in a patch of beautifully trimmed plants. I was shocked and disgusted. Why didn’t the person just keep the bottle in the car until he reached a place to dump it? Is it a don’t care attitude, carelessness, laziness, or ignorance?

So why do people do such things. Is it a sign of mental illness? It is a sign of revenge or bitterness? I wonder what would these same indiscriminate trash dumpers do if I went to their homes and dumped decaying dead dogs, stink food, and old clothing right on their front doorsteps. What will they think or do?

When Annick and I go to swim in the mornings, we pick up beach trash and put it in the containers. We have picked up condom wraps, fast food containers, clothing, bath towels, swimsuits, bras, panties, sanitary pads, children’s toys, tissue paper, pizza boxes, shoes, beer bottles, soda cans, soft drink containers, etc. Sometimes we find dollar bills, cell phones, and wallets. It is clear to me that during the nights the beach is used as an excitement sandy strip for midnight pleasure seekers.

But why leave the trash behind?

We do have some clean, lovely areas on our island. However, far too many empty streets and properties are being used as a dumping ground. I think this is done become people simply don’t care and do not think clearly about the consequences of what they are doing. People in trash-filled neighborhoods do not realize that the large mound of trash in their neighborhood actually reflects their character and mindset. They leave home for work on Monday morning heavily perfumed and dressed up in their beautiful apparels and actually step around or over the trash.

Is this a sign of mental illness? One writer wrote: “People litter because they do not feel responsible for public areas like streets and parks. The more they litter, the more it becomes a habit. People usually litter outside their own neighborhood where their trash becomes someone else’s problem. People litter because they believe someone will pick up after them. Once litter starts to pile up, people feel even less responsible for adding to the litter. If an area is clean, people are less likely to litter.”

Who is littering? One research states: “Individuals under 30 are more likely to litter than those who are older. In fact, age, and not gender, is a significant predictor of littering behavior.” I wonder if this is the same in our country. Is a sense of entitlement causing many to do this? Is it because too many do not have a sense of ownership? They are saying to themselves: “This land is not my land.” All are guilty of such a despicable behavior: the rich and poor, blacks and whites, males and females, young and old. I have seen people dumping from their luxurious cars and expensive trucks. Let’s stop this. Stop being lazy and careless.

Dear citizens, we must stop this indiscriminate dumping. It looks terrible. It is detrimental to the image we project to the world. It ruins our tourism brand and product. It pollutes the environment and even impacts adversely our mental health. It shows who we are as a people. Stand up and make a difference. Let us truly display national pride. Make it your duty to stop and pick up trash wherever you are – the small pieces of chewing gum wrappers, sandwich papers, ATM print-outs, etc. Let it begin with you. Simply make an intentional, deliberate decision to not litter, and no indiscriminate dumping anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Let us pledge to remain clean, even long after our country’s 50th Independence celebration.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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