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How to trash a lovely island


Recently, I’ve begun recycling and I feel like a better person after each time.  About once a week I tromp to the recycling bins a few blocks down the road with several bag-fulls of plastics, glass, and paper.  My recycling runs are fairly frequent because of having to buy drinking water in two-liter plastic bottles and milk in pint-sized boxes.  One person alone generates a lot of trash anywhere in the world, but especially here.  So since I’ve started to recycle, I can almost feel the Earth breathing a sigh of relief…almost.

Photocopy, anyone?

Perhaps the sigh would be a little more audible if the Sicilian policy on littering wasn’t anywhere, anytime, and in any form.  Hell, even throwing an old car chassis off a cliff onto the rocky shore of the Mediterranean is acceptable.  Amazingly, there is really no area left untouched.  Litter is not just common to sidewalks and the like.  Oh no—it’s much more prolific.  It can be found blowing about in a park, tucked away off of a hiking trail, or waiting patiently in the middle of the road for a car tire to roll over and shatter it.  It’s everywhere.

I was warned that I shouldn’t look too closely to this picturesque place with inland areas resembling Scotland and beaches akin to Grecian Islands because of all the litter.  If you only look from afar, you won’t see all the trash clogging up the scenery like a hairy sheep dog being bathed in an old tub with poor plumbing.  A shame isn’t it?

It seems that government funds allotted for the upkeep of public parks are very limited; thus, when an area has received the funding to be beautified, it is quite rare.  One would think that the town citizens would respect the cleanliness for at least a short while because of the rarity of public upkeep.  However, it is only a matter of weeks or even days before the ground is speckled with pizza boxes, empty beer bottles and syringes…I just hope those are for insulin injections and there just happens to be a lot of diabetics on the island.  They do eat a lot of refined sugars.

Recently I was walking along the water front when I saw a man walk to the coastal cliff and wail a five-gallon bucket, which evidently was no longer useful to him, out into the water.  My jaw dropped and brow furrowed—if only I had a slingshot and a rock, I thought to myself.  Unfortunately, he never even looked in my direction to receive his due scorn, and he went on merrily with his day.

Making paradise perfect: foreground trash

Occurrences like these are unfortunately all too common but I must say that this one was probably the most overt litter-in-action I’ve witnessed here.  One theory for this anti-trash can campaign is that perhaps Sicilians are merely continuing their disposal methods they have used for centuries.  Maybe they assume the way in which their ancestors disposed of metal gladiator uniforms will work just as well for how they dispose of metal box springs in recent day—just toss them to the side and eventually they will rust away. 

Perhaps in their minds, the world hasn’t stopped revolving and they still have a tap on endless wine and pasta, so why waste the time and make the effort to look for an alternative solution to waste disposal?  Tomorrow will we’ll worry about; for now let’s just have a café.

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