From the Editor – The Litterbug Revolution

Continuing the tradition from the the last month, let me first introduce you to this month’s brilliant debutant Sunil Deepak. In his own words “A doctor based in Bologna (Italy), I often travel in different countries for work. I love travelling and photography.” He joined ghumakkar on 27th February 2011 and since then has already written two beautiful stories with rich details.

Welcome to Ghumakkar, Sunil. Hope you are feeling at home here.

Every time I read stories from other countries or visit new places in the UK, I am reminded of India by some sight or the other. We live in a beautiful country and are blessed with a vast variety of landscapes. From dense forests to desolate deserts, from highest mountains to the most dramatic beaches, we have it all. We have glaciers, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, backwaters and oceans. And, yet, no one else treats these treasures with as much disrespect as we do. Our sense of fun is sadly limited to going to a place, playing loud music, dancing, drinking, and eating. And then leaving a trail of debris behind.



We have forgotten the simple pleasures of sitting near a waterfall and listening to the mesmerising sounds of water, the chirping of birds, and the wind rushing through the pine trees. We do not think before throwing that can of coke into the bushes or before discarding our plastic bags into the rivers. We do not give any thought to the amount of damage one single plastic bag can cause to the environment and also to the visual appeal of the place. We are the litterbugs!!

You only have to visit any popular tourist place to understand what I am talking about. This is the reason why I feel that the places that are ‘not-so-popular’ right now should stay that way. So that they are safe from the miseries that the places like Kempty Falls in Mussourie have suffered. Click here to see a link I found to highlight the plight of this once beautiful tourist spot.

Littering is a habit that has been passed down to us across generations. We feel that it is our birth-right and I have also met people who proudly state that it is an Indian trait. It really frustrates me when I see seemingly educated people roll down the windows of the car and throw used paper plates and plastic glasses on the road along with ugly garbage such as banana peels. I have tried to reason with litterbugs many times. And I have heard the most amusing excuses in the process. Here are the top 10:

1. But everyone else is also doing the same
2. But no one’s watching
3. But the street is already dirty
4. Why doesn’t the government provide dustbins?
5. I don’t agree with this philosophy
6. It’s not my job
7. I want to topple the current government
8. Carrying garbage back home is against Vaastu
9. Huh, what?
10. Who are you? Are you an Indian?

I think that the only time when it is acceptable to throw your garbage anywhere outside a garbage bin is when human flesh-eating maggots are crawling out of it. And, yes, I am an Indian and that is why I am so bothered about this unmindful disfiguring of our cities and tourist places and also about the image of India that our dirty tourist destinations project.

Many of our fellow ghumakkars have highlighted this problem in the past. And many of us try to do something to prevent it. I carry a plastic bag everywhere and keep the garbage in it till I can find a garbage bin. A colleague of mine has devised a useful tactic that works by shaming litterbugs into picking up their litter. This particular colleague silently starts picking up the rubbish his friends have casually discarded and then throws it into the dustbin himself. Most often, this shames his friends into doing it themselves but some still just look the other way. But, nevertheless, he does manage to make a difference.

It is difficult but each of us can contribute towards changing this tradition of throwing garbage anywhere and everywhere. The first step is obviously to not litter. Think about it. If you do not litter, there is one less litterbug out there. If you take the next step of trying to talk to litterbugs with an intention of making them stop, you are taking a rather big leap. And when you have actually convinced or shamed a litterbug into not littering, you have possibly achieved the impossible. So every little step we can take in this direction is a huge contribution. As Ghumakkars, it is our concern and also a responsibility. So let’s just be our natural, responsible selves and try to make whatever contributions we can to prevent our tourist spots from turning into huge piles of rubbish. Let’s silently start a Litterbug Revolution.

If there is a particular tactic that you use to avoid littering yourselves or to make others throw their garbage in garbage bins, feel free to leave a comment. We can all learn from each other.

Till the next time…

Note: The credit for the pictures goes to Microsoft Office Cliparts :)

10 Comments

  • catch22 says:

    Very informative and inspiring write-up. This website seems to be making a difference…

    http://www.theuglyindian.com/footpath.html

  • Vibha says:

    Thanks cat22,

    The link that you have shared is awesome. Very encouraging and inspiring. It is true. We cannot keep on placing the blame on others. We have to do something ourselves. Thanks for sharing this wonderful link! :)

  • VJ SHARMA says:

    Great Move !!!

    Really inspiring and all the Ghumakkars should pledge for it…

    @ Vibha : I think many folks in your old team take care of this and also motivate others !

  • Thanks VJ,

    Yes a lot of my former colleagues do this. I am very proud of them :)

    All of us can make a difference and any small effort counts. See the success stories in the link posted by catch22 above. Amazing!

  • Nandan says:

    I start with a shout if I know the folks, if I dont then I let it go but guess thats like not doing anything at all.

    Lets NOT be litterbugs.

  • Smita Dhall says:

    Nice one, Vibha.

    The one I used sparingly but convincingly (to myself) till I was made to realise by my better half that it wasn’t an excuse good enough; and that something I hear a lot of other people using as the alibi – is that “it is bio-degradable”. In as many words I was confronted that “you wouldn’t spill it in your drawing room, will you?”. That was my turning point. And I use that now, makes sense.

    Great subject and very thoughtful. Thanks.

  • Thanks Smita, Glad you liked it. And “you wouldn’t spill it in your drawing room, will you?” is a very good reason for not littering. Thanks for Sharing :)

  • Anuradha says:

    Hi Vibha,
    A great thought and very bothering indeed!
    But more than that what bothers me are the “name carving” or “leaving your mark ” ones on a beautiful monument. Littering can be revered to some extent by cleaning and generating awarenes, but I seriously doubt that people who have this carving habit would stop or it can be reversed on statues or stones. It requires a big step.I still cannot fathom the urge of doing such a thing, who cares for ” Soni loves Mukesh” duh! Moreover its just not the archeological places ,they havent spared the lifts or trains as well… I would be very glad if someone comes up with an idea to stop this.

  • Vibha says:

    Yes Anuradha, I agree.

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