Use Me!

I’ve been pretty aware of the fact that cleanliness of our city is important. It’s healthier and obviously more visually appealing.

Over the years, I’ve started to feel pretty strongly about it too. So much so that I when I see someone littering, I go up to them and ask them to pick up the trash they just threw on the road and find a dustbin to toss it in, or hold on to it till they do. Peoples’ reactions have been quite diverse. Embarrassment (when I ask them whether they’re educated or when I tell them I’ll throw it in the dustbin for them), retaliation, incomprehension (no jokes) and the worst one — indifference.

I have friends who don’t care when they litter in India, but never do it when they’re abroad. They have tons of excuses for these depraved acts. Some of them being — ‘It’s so much easier to not litter there’, ‘there are more dustbins’, ‘the law is stricter’, and, get this, ‘nobody else litters’. Hah!

Planting more bins (maybe one every 200 metres on every street of Mumbai) was a friend’s idea of attaining Clean Mumbai, Green Mumbai. He worked out the mathematics and it seems it’ll cost about 0.02% of the annual budget of the MCGM (the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai). Hypothetically, if the numbers used were close to correct, that’s far from steep to keep Mumbai’s streets dirt-free.

It would definitely be a great initiative (maybe we’ll even do it), but what compels me to be cynical about the whole thing is the fact that the root of all evil is the attitude of people, and not the number of garbage bins available. I have seen people littering without even looking around for a garbage bin to hurl their waste in. I don’t think these guys would walk 100 metres to get to a bin. It seems even education doesn’t make a difference, because even the well-read fling their junk like the city-roads are their personal dustbin.

I guess it boils down to the environment you’ve grown up in, the schooling you’ve had (to a certain extent), and after a certain point in life, self-discipline. So do it. Try and not litter ladies and gentlemen, it’s one of the easiest things in the world.

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