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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

don't litterPhoto by frankh

I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

Difference #6: The attitude towards littering.

There’s an eye-catching scene in an episode of the popular, award-winning TV series o AMC called “Mad Men” in which the lead character’s family moves off from a picnic in a park by simply shaking all their litter from their blanket onto the grass and moving off. It was noted by nearly every TV reviewer as one of the excellent examples of how the American attitude towards littering has changed since the early 1960s when the series is set.

I mention that to reassure readers that Americans are no better than (or different from) Dominicans in this regard. The “Dominican Difference” in this case is only one brought about by a vigorous public anti-littering campaign financed by the government, conservation groups, etc.

I could write a lot of things you’ve probably heard or read about Dominica’s litter problem and the differences between the local solution and how it was mostly solved in the US. (I say “mostly” because poor peoples in the ghettos in the US still litter out of hopelessness, frustration, and the sense that the place belongs to absentee landlords.) The US can afford to collect and recycle and fine people (who can pay). Even there, companies sometimes litter if they think they won’t be caught, and the mob profits by collecting trash and dumping it for free instead of paying to recycle it or dispose of it properly.

But all that having been said, one simple fact is inescapable, in Dominica or anywhere for that matter – the solution begins with a changed public attitude towards littering. I haven’t seen enough of that change here. I wrote and e-mail to Domlec noting that their crews simply litter the ground with bits of non-biodegradable cable, and never received a reply. I see people of all ages simply litter daily. And many people act as if filth washed down their open drains is no longer their problem. They’re wrong: At best it’s unsightly and foul-smelling, but at worst it causes and/or spreads diseases and vermin.

Feelings against littering are growing here, but there’s a lot of lip-service too. We don’t have forever. Cleaning up Dominica is vital for our health, our price, and our precious environment. Once again, – the solution begins with a changed public attitude towards littering.

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Comment by Steve Foerster Subscribed to comments via email
2009-10-22 22:03:15

Similarly, I wish some of those rusted out hulks that used to be vehicles could be removed from their resting places at the side of the road. Of course, doing that wouldn’t be free, and I guess when money’s scarce things that like are the first to go?

Comment by Dan
2009-10-22 22:21:09

Dominica hasn’t the funds or infrastructure to recycle cars, but there are still things that could be done with them. (1) they could be gathered and sold as scrap/ballast, (2) they could be drained of fluids and then burned and the metal used as a reef starter.

But I repeat: Change will only come when most Dominicans have a changed attitude towards littering.

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