Litter, litter, litter…

Thoughtless discarding of litter

Litter disposal

I am not one to chuck out an empty juice bottle or plastic bags from my car window but I have not always been like that. It was in the 90’s when my brother-in-law reprimanded me for throwing out an empty crisps packet along the Salima-Balaka road. On long distances, I now usually have an empty plastic bag that I will deposit junk in whereas when town driving I will just throw it on the car floor until I get home and clean it out.

The rainy season is upon us, or hopefully so. Along the roads and in storm drains the litter has piled up – empty tin cans, used scratch cards, plastic bags, you name it. Once the rains start those drains will either be blocked or their contents deposited into the nearest stream or river. In both cases it will present a very unpleasant sight and a health hazard. But what can we do about it? What incentives can we give to people not to discard junk anyhow?

Scratch card litter

Last year I asked a colleague of mine, who was working for Zain at the time, to consider running a promotion where used scratch cards would be exchanged for tree seedlings during the tree planting month. The exercise would not only be about planting trees but also give a chance to Zain to educate people on the need to discard their used scratch cards, and all other litter, in the proper way. The suggestion came to nothing, most probably for good reason.

The bottom line is that there is very little education out there on the damage we are doing to our environment by carelessly discarding our waste all over the place. But even if there was no damage taking place who the hell do we expect to clean up after us? We complain about how littered our streets are yet down the same road we contribute to its mess. A few initiatives to clean our streets by marketers, some public education and a bit of common sense should help.

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