Look out for Dustbins

Every time I am outside and I don’t find a dustbin, I ensure that I carry the trash with me till I find one. It doesn’t matter if I am walking or travelling by bike/car/bus/train. I ensure that that I drop my trash in the dustbin.

I stopped dropping trash outside when I was travelling to Cochin in Feb 2010. From then on till now, I have never thrown anything outside.

Last week, I was travelling by train with my family to Aluva, Kochi. We had many baggages. And on top of it, I was collecting trash (Our used paper plates, cups, etc.) and putting them in a separate cover. I couldn’t find any dustbin in the first few stops and hence I decided I will drop it in Aluva Railway Station which was our destination. (I do agree that the railway authorities should act swiftly and place a dustbin in the train. But when they don’t do it, don’t we have that moral responsibility to not litter outside)

My dad was furious “We already have so many baggages. Why do you want to carry one more with trash in it? Can’t you dispose it then and there? Do you think the whole nation will get cleaned if you do this?” and then the argument went on and on between us.

This isn’t the first time I am hearing these questions. When I do this, I am not appreciated by people around me. But in fact they mock at me. They ask me this standard question – “Everyone litters and throws things outside. What difference is it going to make if you don’t throw it?”, “Will the city become clean if you stop throwing?”

I also have some questions to ask,

  • Why do you pray for peace? Do you think your one prayer will impact the entire world?
  • Why do we crib that the city/nation is not well maintained when there is no effort from our end?
  • Why do most of us believe in this quote “Every drop makes an ocean”?
  • When we saw someone spit from the bus, we said “Oh Shit!” because we are little more sophisticated. But we never wore any such expressions on our faces when we threw something like papers/eatables (Probably spitting makes a city unclean and throwing papers/eatables doesn’t)

But anyway people mocking at me doesn’t make me give up. When you stand up for something, then be the change you wish to see. When I teach my kid not to litter, I wish to be consistent without giving any excuses. If I start saying that there is no dustbin, there is no this and no that, then my kid will also find 100 excuses to tell me.

I am so sure that I can’t change whole of India. I can influence some and on seeing them, others could get influenced. It is just like chain reaction. People do this with the hope that someday someone would say “Hey this place is clean or has far improved in terms of cleanliness”. We do things out of hope that things will get better.

I once saw 2 French people eating Chicken Roll in a small shop in Bangalore. Rolls are usually wrapped in a tissue paper. There wasn’t any dustbin nearby. After they finished eating, they carried the papers with them in their hands and threw it in a dustbin that was 200 meters away.

They could have thought “Hey this is India! Who cares?? Let us drop it somewhere”. Their discipline was evident.

A person who litters in India will not do it in foreign countries. They abide by external law and not by the internal one. To put it in layman’s terms, people lack discipline. When there is discipline, there is no need for law to enforce something on you.

To stop littering, you don’t need law. All that you need is discipline.

PS: What to do if you have trash and you don’t find a dustbin when you are walking? – Carry a cover, use your pockets till you find a dustbin. Am sure you will find one within 500 meters distance. And am sure you will find some solution to carry your trash with you (You might have a bag pack or you might request for a cover from a nearby shop or whatever. But there is some solution around)

What to do if you are travelling by bike/car/bus/train? – Collect the trash, place it in any area where there is space and put them in a dustbin when you get down in any of the stops or when you find a dustbin somewhere.

I have encountered different situations in the last 7 years to dispose my trash – right from papers to diapers. And I found a way to do it. Can you?