Friday, August 13, 2010

Give a hoot don't pollute! Or at least keep your garbage orderly

A black cat staring down a garbage bag in Brussels

When I describe Brussels one of the adjectives I use is dirty. I often write about the Brussels garbage problem. Basically many residents use the city as their personal garbage can. In one of my last blogs, I mentioned how one brave Bruxellois told people not use the trees as garbage cans. Kudos to this person but in general people tolerate dirty streets.

When I was little, there was this public service announcement with a catchy slogan "give a hoot and don't pollute." Years later, this slogan sticks in my head and whenever, I am out and about. In major cities it is always more of challenge to keep the streets clean and tidy. However, Germany and Switzerland seem to do a good job in keeping their cities clean. In Germany, it is common to see someone scrubbing a garbage can in a train station. When my husband and I were vacaying in Switzerland two summers ago, one of the locals told us that Switzerland is very clean because cleanliness and respecting your surroundings is taught to children at a very young age. Swiss parents teach their kids at a young age not to toss their garbage on the ground but rather hold it until you find a rubbish bin. It may seem annoying to carry an empty water bottle but your surroundings should be treated with respect. I am not sure this is taught in Brussels.

A small disclaimer: I don't want readers to think that Brussels is the dirtiest city on earth because there are other places that are just as dirty. Many times, the subways in NYC smell of urine or people just spit on the Staten Island ferry. Even Paris which is known as one of the most gorgeous cities is fully of dog poo. So I guess there is more to a city than cleanliness.

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