Getting rid of the Garbage

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one of the great joys of coming back home after visiting another country is taking a look through the photos and videos one has taken, and marveling again at the places one has been to. I usually do this bit by bit as I slowly upload my photos on social media, while savoring each memory of those times for as long as I can (or at least, before the next trip abroad comes along!)

During the last 5 years I have been to Sicily 4 or 5 times, and this Mediterranean island, which is the closest one to the Maltese archipelago, never ceases to amaze me. I admit, part of the fascination is the fact that it is so much like my own Malta… and yet, so different too. In fact I previously wrote an article about it, which mainly focused on the historical ties between the two islands, and which one can read here. However with the positive, unfortunately, one also has to face the negative aspects of each country, and while Malta and Sicily have a lot of amazing things in common, such as their heritage, architecture, art, food, etc, they also have one other thing in common which they could well do without.

I am talking about garbage.

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Every country, indeed every place where there is human habitation, generates an amount of garbage. That is normal. The responsible and acceptable thing to do of course, is to take care of this waste and recycle it, or at least dispose of it in some constructive way which does not damage the environment or ourselves.

Unfortunately, that much appreciated lassaize-faire attitude which both the Maltese and the Sicilians have in common, is, I think, the issue from which the waste-related problem stems. The so-called ‘u ijwa‘ (an expression basically meaning ‘I don’t give a damn’) attitude is why people simply don’t care enough to pick up their trash and take it with them whenever they are in the countryside for a picnic for example, or at the beach for a swim. What’s worse, larger junk and discarded appliances, such as BBQs, mattresses, fridges, etc, which in Malta is even picked up free of charge by local councils once or twice a week from the front of one’s own household, is, for some incomprehensible reason, left outside to rust and deteriorate, besmirching our natural habitat, instead.

And this is what I found in Sicily, and as I was looking at which photos to upload in my online album, the issue became even more evident. There were photos in my camera which I discarded, simply because the trash overwhelmed the beauty and nature around it. Why are humans so destructive? No other mammal or indeed, no other animal, is such a parasite on nature as humanity. And that is surely nothing to be proud of. 

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The worse is that these photos are just a pale reflection of what I saw – and here I mean both the beauty of Sicily, and the corrosive trash left lying around it. The only thing I can do, is hope that this ‘u ijwa‘ attitude is slowly eroded out of the population, either through education, or through the consequences of learning that living in one’s own filth, is of detriment both to the mind and the body, and is one of the unhealthiest things one can do. Sounds like common sense doesn’t it? So, how come we have this issue?

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Rant: The SALOTT and Sticks in the Mud

So, yesterday (or more accurately, this morning actually) at around 12.30am, I was right on the verge of sleep, cuddled cozily with my better half in the silent darkness – when suddenly I heard a huge enormous peal of thunder. Or so I thought. Only, the thunder did not stop. It just went on and on and on, rising in volume, until I could almost feel the earth vibrate. Yes, vibrate – even though I was in bed not on the floor, and even though we live in an elevated maisonette with another one beneath us.

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Finally, after like half a minute (which believe me is quite long when you’re listening to what you believe might be either an explosion or an actual earthquake), it stopped. My bf was asleep and, ubelievably enough, had not stirred.

I immediately logged onto social media. I was sure someone would comment on it. AND I WAS RIGHT. A relative tornado of queries, panicked comments and questions suddenly appeared on ‘The Salott‘, a popular local Maltese page on Facebook where people debate present issues, talk about general subject, and moan and groan in general… yea I know… I actually keep logging as a member for the entertainment value these intellectually challenged people provide, but anyways – THIS time, it kinda comforted me to realize that I was not the only one feeling astonished at this amazing booming cracking sound coming on at 12.30am. They heard it in many different places around Malta, and that was quite strange too.

Now what non-locals have got to realize is that in Malta, we have a long tradition of amateur and not-so-amateur firework-making establishments exploding, literally, in flames. There was a period some few years ago when it seemed like there was such an unfortunate accident every two or three months – so naturally, I started to think that maybe something like that had happened. 

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More and more people started saying that it was just thunder, though strange thunder at that. Thunder without any storm, clouds, or inclement weather around, but still thunder. In other words, nothing to write home about they said. Storm in a teacup (excuse my pun). Just a lot of ado about nothing. ‘Why all this fuss?’ they asked us peeps who were concerned, ‘it’s 12.30am in the morning, why don’t you go to sleep now? Don’t you have anything better to do?’

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Nice, so here we, the worried peeps, are – thinking someone might actually be hurt and that something bad might have happened (what with all the terrorism and stuff happening around the world lately), and you’re laughing at us coz we actually give a shit?

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Is this the kind of attitude that’s ‘cool’ nowadays? I don’t know – is being concerned tantamount to being a stick in the mud now? Yes, it may just have been thunder, but for a moment there, no one was sure – and it might actually NOT have been thunder. What if it had been an emergency situation? Anyways, nice attitude pals… *NOT*!