I recalled when I was on a trip to Siwa desert with friends. It was past dinner time. There was an Egyptian sweeping the floor. He worked at the restaurant. He then said something in Arabic, which our Egyptian friend translate for us that he said (roughly) “Where there is Egyptian, there is garbage.” At that point, I had been in Egypt for about 3 months. The longer I had stayed in Egypt, the stronger I feel about this statement.
Aside from Cairo, where you can find garbage piling up on every other street, what I saw wasn’t much better. On one of many trips that I went from Cairo to Sinai peninsula, I have seen first hand that a mother teaching her kid to throwing waste on the bus instead of waiting for a trash can. It was disturbing for a foreigner like me to see.
In Fethiye, Turkey, I went on a day cruise to see the twelve islands. I was happily dancing with hospitable Turkish travellers on the cruise, until I saw the staff dump leftover food into the water, the same water in which everyone was swimming earlier. I was appalled. Maybe they don’t care about mother Earth, but don’t they care about the sustainability of their business? No one would want to go on a cruise of a polluted sea, if they and other operators “keep up the effort”.
In Canada, we are taught not to litter. Dog owners pick up after their dogs. I was so used to putting that banana peel in my backpack till I can find somewhere I can dispose it properly. On the other hand, citizens in different parts of the world are not so conscious about the environment is not getting better if mothers are teaching their kids to litter.
As I travel around the world and see more things, there were many times that the beautiful scenery before my eyes is taking my breath away. Other times I am just in the moment, seeing wildlife freely running across the forest. It makes me appreciate nature, our beautiful planet, and the life that I am living. It breaks my heart to see the locals not caring about the environment. They had been given a great gift from mother nature. And as a “foreigner”, I cared more than they did.
What can we do? How can we make a change?