Saturday, May 23, 2009

garbage in, garbage out

Trash. Garbage. Refuse.

The refrain is not new. I have written on garbage before:
talkin' trash in February of 2008.

My tirade was about trash in the park where Jiggs and I took our evening walk in Salem. That post engendered quite a few comments.

Well, it is time for a reprise in my new home: Melaque.

During the month I have been here, I have been amazed at the amount of trash that accumulates on the street and on the beach in front of the house. Bottles. Wrappers. Plastic bags. Things that I cannot begin to identify. Not to mention, the odd shoe or pair of underpants.

I realize the Melaque area is a tourist town. And tourists have a way of treating the places they visit in the same manner the Romans treated the Sabine women. Drunks urinating on the stoops of New Orleans mansions comes to mind.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that the village has set up numerous garbage cans to help alleviate the trashing of neighborhoods -- to little avail. The mess pictured above is mere steps from a receptacle.

As I wrote over a year ago, I have a choice. I can either keep griping or I can do something. My solution in Salem was to take an extra garbage bag with me on my dog walks. If I found trash, I would pick it up.

So, I started the same technique here while Jiggs was still able to cruise the neighborhood. I saw Mexicans (locals and tourists) shaking their heads at me. Not because I was picking up garbage -- but because I was picking up after Jiggs. That seemed to be a unanimous source of joking.

At a minimum I pick up along the beach fence line and in front of the house each day. When I get back to my regular morning and evening walks, I will pick up as much as I can.

Will it make a difference? Probably, not.

But, at least I will be doing something other than complaining about the trash -- until the next post.


Calypso said...

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Ghandi

Very cool hombre - what you are doing - don't give up hope. In our part of Mexico has yet to learn about handling trash. Appears to be the same there ;-(

Felipe said...

You have a finger in the dike!

Laurie said...

Yesterday I was looking for last minute snapshots before I travel north today. I saw an older gentlemen with a cowboy hat buying fruit. I thought, here is my moment! Then he peeled a banana and dropped the peel in the gutter as he walked away. Honduras needs more education on taking care of their environment. So does Mexico, I guess. Don't give up.

Nancy said...

It's a problem here, too. There are beach cleanup days every so often but not much organized anti-litter action.

What would be my dream would be more trash containers around. That's one of the main issues here, I think.

Glad you're setting an example.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

There is a little hope. I walk three dogs, two of them large labs, and always pick up after them. I get the same funny looks, but in the last two years I see more of my neighbors walking their dogs with a plastic bag in their fist. Yes a great many dogs still run free, but there has been at least a little something positive to come from caring a little.

Christine said...

Oh Good! You are getting to be the village eccentric--in a great way. Before long everyone will know your name. A great way to quickly become part of the community.

Constantino said...

Only the Blessed Virgin would be able to put a dent in the genetic habits of the populace. Good Luck! Weekly we remove two large garbage bags of the same along our property line that borders the bighway. They could hire people to clean it all up, then the national taxes would go up, etc,etc. So keep on cleaning, knowing at least your reward is within yourself!

glorv1 said...

Steve I think what you are doing is a good thing and hopefully the people who see you doing that will start to do the same thing. I pick up trash outside my door every day. A car goes by and throws out their bag from McDonalds or whatever else they feel like throwing out. I commend you for what you are doing. Hugs to Jiggs. Is he eating okay now? How is he?

Beth said...

Your making a difference in your corner of the world. When I use to visit Seaside I would be so disgusted in the morning of the amount of trash left on the beach and Prom. And as you said, a trash receptacle mere inches away.

Anonymous said...

I do the same at my waterfront 12 unit apt. bldg. I dont' like the thought of the trash blowing into the river. I look at it as I'm a friend of the river (Detroit) and not my neighbors one man clean up crew.

Anonymous said...

perhaps others will eventually follow your example-we can only hope. better yet, it would be great if they would stop the littering.

hope jiggs is doing better.


maria luz said...

I believe it was the great Felipe who once told me that once a piece of trash leaves a a native Mexicans hands they no longer own it so hold no responsibility as to where it goes or does not go. In other words it goes wherever it blows. Or falls. They give it not one single thought. Awareness must be raised within the heathens! (I am a real Mexican, so don't get your shorts in a knot, folks.)

Many local Mexican governments are trying to change this mentality and are actually planting commercials on TV, along with the placement of trash cans, to encourage a "cultural change" of ways for a cleaner, prettier Mexico.

I even know a gringo expat on Isla Mujeres who has been instrumental in getting trash cans, oil drums in pretty colors, placed around the island to get the locals to change their ways. And it has been working for several years. Not perfectly, but it has helped. Islagringo may know who I am talking about.

The issue in Mexico is they stop short of passing laws for littering and don't provide the incentives to the policia to enforce those laws. Heck, they don't even enforce existing laws.

Ever hear of "Don't Mess with Texas"? They really mean it here with really stiff fines and still litter flies in mass on the interstates and some city streets. Rabble begets rabble - I guess.

So, what do you do on either side of the border to get these numbskulls to have civic pride? Quien sabe????

When I taught kiddos here in Texas I practically beat it into the kids that littering was up there with stealing and yelling at authority figures. Santa would not grace your chimney! It has to start very young and be executed uniformly and consistently.

Never quit Steve. Keep that finger in the dike. At least you will have a nicer view of the beach.


Steve Cotton said...

I am happy to see that I did not get flamed by the "you-have-to-realize-that-it-is-different-down-here" crowd (as I would have on one of the Mexico message boards). Litter is litter in every culture.

Calypso -- Andee and you were the inspiration for my clean-up attitude. It takes very little time, the results are obvious, and it makes me feel a little better to help people. I want to pass on what the two of you taught me.

Felipe -- And the water is rising.

Laurie -- Calypso quotes Ghandi, I would quote the same sentiment from Jesus in his sermon on the mount. Until we change, we cannot expect others to change.

Nancy -- Trash barrels are a start. But it takes parents showing children proper behavior. Unfortunately, it is the parents who do the littering on the beach here. I cannot remember a time -- even back to the 50s -- when people treated the Oregon and Washington beaches this way. Of course, it is difficult to eat and litter while you are wearing gloves and mittens.

Larry -- Being a good model appears to be the first step in this process.

Christine -- I was born to play the role of the village eccentric. And it fits in with my goal to be known by everyone in town before I move on to my next performance site.

Constantino --You may have a great idea. Perhaps, a modern peassant could show up in a local chapel with a cloak containing a picture of the Virgin holding two garbage bags -- with a caption: "Who do you expect to clean up that mess? Me?"

Gloria -- I will have a report on Jiggs tomorrow -- I hope.

Beth -- Remember what happened when I tried the same thing in Salem? I hope the police are a bit more understanding down here.

Francisco -- I think looking at as a friendly gesture toward your neighbors is every bit as valid as being a friend of the river.

Teresa -- I do not expect a big culutural shift here. It took years for some areas of the States to get litter under controil.

Maria Luz -- I bow to your insight. Perhaps change will come -- gradually.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

It has not been that long since littering was really reduced in USA. I seem to recall major campaigns for awareness in the 70s - right?

One little step at a time ...

It is the same here :(

Howard said...

Hi Steve:
After living in Melaque for over two years I can tell you that most locals work very hard to keep the place clean. Most home and store owners sweep up outside their places daily. Sure there are tourists (mostly Mexican) who think they can treat the town as a garbage bin, but I am amazed at the changes I have been seeing. I have seen a team of off-duty policemen picking up garbage along the highway, for example. It is exciting to watch the improvements - keep showing an example as the locals catch on quickly.

Steve Cotton said...

I guess they are all baby steps.

Steve Cotton said...

Howard -- It is nice to know there is good news. Now, I feel like a local.