Saturday, 22 April 2017

Litter makes me bitter.

Here we live, o blessed people of Jeziorki, in a beautiful, magical corner of Warsaw, surrounded by nature, birdsong, wildlife - and filth. For some reason (I'd ascribe it to mindlessness) two specific elements of our local community find it impossible to take their litter with them and dispose of it properly. Element One - Pan Ziutek and Pan Heniek, who meet under a clump of trees on ul. Nawłocka (below) to imbibe. Once suitably refreshed, they abandon their bottles and cans in the grass and stagger off to their hovels.

Element Two is more seasonal, and the approaching spring is drawing them into the open air - teenagers who come to have outdoor picnics by the pond (presumably because it is an attractive place); they leave their soft drink and ketchup bottles making the place look less attractive.

This mindlessness requires punishment - corporal punishment such as being placed in stocks outside Ursynów district hall, where the brudasi can be pelted with rotting onions and eggs by laughing crowds.

In last year's participatory budget (to be spent this year), the number one choice of Jeziorki voters was for a set of 12 dustbins to be placed along ul. Trombity, ul. Dumki and ul. Kórnicka. There already are bins out along Kórnicka and the far end of Dumki, evidently more are needed.

Back in Britain, I am sure that among the 1,269,501 voters who swung it for Brexit at last June's election was a fair number of citizens for whom the daily sight of empty tins of Polish beers strewing the parks and gutters of English towns and villages was the last straw, the tipping point at which they decided to vote leave. Below: one Żywiec, one Warka and four tins of Specjal Jasny Pełny to go. Empties in Pitshanger Park, Ealing.

This, from last week's Economist, which has a two-page story called Migrantland, about those parts of the UK with the fastest influx of EU migrants, those parts that voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU in the referendum":
"We estimate that whereas over 40% of the Poles living in London have a higher-education qualification, only about a quarter do in the East Midlands, where three of our ten areas are. One in 20 people in Boston cannot speak English well or at all, according to the 2011 census. Small wonder that integration is hard. Many landlords do not allow tenants to drink or smoke inside, so people sit out on benches, having a drink and a cigarette. “Because they’re young, not because they’re foreign, they might not put their tins in the bin,” says Paul Gleeson, a local councillor."
I disagree with Mr Gleeson. They don't put their tins in the bin not because of their age, but because no one taught them to put their tins in the bin. I remember when Eddie was small, we'd watch TV together, and often see a Public Information broadcast featuring a Afro-Caribbean dad and his son; the son dropped a soft-drink tin, his father told him to pick it up and put in in the bin. And I, who puts the smallest scrap of paper into my pocket rather than drop it on the street, brought up Eddie the same way - you take your litter home with you. You drop nothing. At all. Ever. Eddie shares my intolerance for litter louts.

How do you stop the mindless from littering? They cannot see or feel the aesthetic damage they do. They come to an attractive place, they leave it less attractive and see nothing wrong. I read recently a text by a writer who'd seen a car full of 'patriotic' youths, sporting Polish flags, Armia Krajowa insignias, patriotic slogans - the occupants chucked out empty fast-food cartons and drinks tins. They claim to love their country, they shit on it.

I would certainly like to see public corporal punishment for litter louts. Economically and socially liberal I may be, but when it comes to protecting our environment, I am robustly illiberal.

This time three years ago:
Lent's over - now what?

This time four years ago:
Completely in the dark

This time five years ago:
Ruch Palikota - a descent into populism

This time sixe years ago:
I cross two unfinished bridges

This time seven years ago:
What's the Polish for 'grumpy'?

This time eight years ago:
Do not take this road!

This time nine years ago:
Seated peacock, Łazienki Park

This time ten years ago:
Spirit of place: 1930s Kentucky - or Jeziorki?


student SGH said...

Looks like another proof upbringing at home shapes in early and teenage years shapes adults for the rest of their lives...

whitehorsepilgrim said...

That takes me back to living in Romania - a country where having a picnic in the country generally involved leaving a smouldering fire, plastic plates and cups, empty containers and food scraps lying on the ground for no-one to pick up.

There are plenty of Poles where I live in Britain, and "Polish" litter is poorly represented amongst the crap that litters our streets and parks. Other than a noticeable propensity to smoke in the street, young Poles are cleaner than the British. And they work hard. No wonder ignorant British don't appreciate the competition.