Author`s name Michael Simpson

Russia Smothered with Garbage

80 billion tons of garbage have been accumulated in the vast expanses of Russia; it makes up 5 kilograms per each square meter!
A man crossing an avenue near the Pervomaisky cinema in the city of Barnaul in broad daylight took out a handful of sunflower seeds husk and threw it away right in the middle of traffic area. Before he did it there was no rubbish on the road at all. Some people perplexedly looked back at the man: why throw the husk away right in the middle of the road while there is a concrete refuse bin on that side of the street where the man followed?

Many of Russians were witnesses of such episodes when some of their neighbors dropped pieces of rubbish and dirty toilet paper on the way to rubbish containers standing near the apartment blocks. They dropped rubbish then flies about the yard; and the place looks awfully polluted. This is strange that some of our neighbors don't pack their rubbish properly so that domestic waste won't drop out of containers while transporting. One more thing seems to be even stranger: why do people throw away cigarette stubs and other rubbish out of their windows at the time when they have dustbins at home? Doing so the people litter their yards and pavements where they walk every day. So, it turns out that we ourselves cause much dirt around us.

Unauthorized dumps are a great problem for that part of Barnaul where wooden houses stand. There are lots of corners between the houses in the center of the city and in the outskirts that are piled with garbage. This is strange that people also like to pile large heaps of garbage near concrete walls encircling building sites. It is also incredible that people often pollute local rivers and water reservoirs.
Early in spring Green Peace activists usually clear the river banks and ponds off rubbish, but by the middle of summer they are once again piled with rubbish.

People at the age of 30-40 remember perfectly well that several years ago there was little garbage in city streets. At least there were no plastic bottles, boxes, plastic bags and paper scattered here and there. As for nearby and remote villages of Altai, people could quietly walk barefooted along local roads: there were no sharp pieces of glass, just may be small stones.

I myself could hardly recognize a remote village in the Charyshsky district that I had visited being a child many times. The problem is that now the houses are surrounded with heaps of garbage mixed with manure and slops that are never removed. People complain that there is no tractor or fuel to take the rubbish away.

Why do we throw garbage everywhere? Do you think it is normal to throw a cigarette box or a plastic bottle right in the middle of a neatly besomed pavement? When you stand at a tram station you may notice that smokers throw cigarette boxes and cigarette ends right upon the railing; then goes any kind of rubbish people manage to find in their pockets. The people don't care that to besom rails is much more difficult that smooth pavements.  

A number of sources have reported that 80 billion tons of garbage have already accumulated on the territory of Russia; it means 5 kilograms per each square meter. Where does this amount of rubbish come from?

It has been calculated that the population of Barnaul that makes up 666,300 people annually accumulates 693 thousand cubic meters of hard domestic waste. The waste doesn't disappear as there is no waste processing here in the city. Thus, heaps of garbage are increasing every year absorbing the city and reducing the space for living.

The head of the department responsible for technical supervision over the sanitary condition of the city of Barnaul, Viktor Kuzmichev says that even though some definite services are fighting with unauthorized dumps and remove garbage from streets where one-storied wooden houses stand heaps of rubbish emerge there all the same. No special raids conducted together with the police help stop those who throw garbage away right in the streets.  Infringers upon cleanness and order can be brought to managerial responsibility only if these people are caught red-handed.

Why do people scatter garbage everywhere? A friend of mine has suggested that probably dustbins are removed from the streets because of the danger of more explosions.

One can out sweet or chocolate wrappers into a handbag and bring it home to put into a dustbin. But what should people do with sticky ice-cream wrapper or an oily sandwich wrapper? The same concerns plastic bottles and cups; you won't carry them all day long if you fail to find a dustbin to throw them away. A friend of mine confesses that when she fails to find a dustbin in the street she counts to ten, then puts wrappings on the pavement border or crams them somewhere into a corner. 

Some people scatter rubbish out of habit; others leave litter about because of their carelessness, being absolutely unaware of the fact that this is violation of law: when you pollute the nature you show disrespect toward other people, cause harm to their health and property, clutter up streets and yards. Those who deliberately throw rubbish past dustbins are even more defiant.

A young girl tells: "I walked along the street and saw a nice guy walking toward me. When he approached me he took an empty cigarette box out of his pocket and threw it on the pavement. I felt disgusted. This is rather boorish attitude to the city!"

Why do some people scatter litter about and others don't? Some people say this is explained with the peculiarities of psyche. There are people who fail to self-affirm in the life; thus they use the opportunity to soil when they are unnoticed. For instance, such people can throw a heap of garbage away right in the middle of the street; at that they realize that nobody will reprove them. They feel cool doing this way.

People with normal brains and upbringing don't use this tactics for self-affirmation. They don't scatter litter about as they think it to be vulgar and ugly.

This is highly likely that the problem of leaving litter about rests on the intelligence and level of culture of each of us. Well-known writer Mikhail Bulgakov was right when he said that it is collapse in heads that we are experiencing. "When we start minding our own business, clear off sheds for example, the collapse will vanish away." My neighbor, an ordinary engineer from a factory says that every business needs a good master. But people in Russia have been broken of the habit of being masters over the 70 years of Soviet power in the country. "Instead of good masters we have lumpens - people who can do little in the life, they don't wish to study but feel angry about the whole of the world. They pursue the only objective of making the lives of other people as bad as their own life, or even worse. These people are the first who do much harm to the nature and to the environment."
What can be done to stop people from piling the streets with rubbish? Everybody whom we asked about possible solutions of the problem say that it is necessary to take care of special upbringing to raise the level of behavior; other methods people suggest are penalties, fines or even compulsory works meant for cleansing of the city. However, nobody knows a really effective method.

A small opinion poll was conducted in the streets of Barnaul and people were asked the same question: "Why do people scatter litter about?"

A man named Vasily says: "Before one scatters litter about it would be nice to think who will take away the rubbish after you. There are lots of people, but the number of street cleaners is insignificant; the whole of the country may soon turn into a dump if each of us scatters the litter about. Let's have pity for Russia; we should better make it green, nice-looking and clean. This summer I visited Finland and was surprised to see this is a very clean country. I even put cigarette ends back into the cigarette box to throw them into a dustbin later.

However, this would have no sense here in Russia as there are thousands of cigarette ends everywhere.

A fiend of mine come back from Seoul and said that a stadium where the world football championship was held last year is built on the site where a huge dump was some time ago. Two other dumps in the city are used as sources of methane for electric power plants (methane emitted by the dumps goes along pipelines to electric power plants). This would be a nice idea for Russia as well."
A woman named Tatyana just got back from a trip about Altai. "We were surprised to see the unique nature of the region; but we were even more shocked to notice that people treat it in a barbarian manner. It is impossible to reach the banks of the beautiful Katun River as they are piled with dumps. The spring of Arzhan-su is nearly buried under plastic bottles. There is a wonderful place for recreation called Tsarskaya Ohota (Tsar Hunting). However, just a few steps outside its territory there are huge piles of garbage. They may be get accumulated for years there and never removed.

Once I visited Poland and Germany, I went to the forest there. Cleanness was what I saw everywhere, there were no plastic bottles and garbage in the forest. It was only once that I saw semi-destroyed houses, dilapidated fences and oily spots on the ground in Eastern Germany. A German acquaintance of mine told me apologetically: "This is a deserted station of the Soviet Army. Sorry, we haven't yet put the place in order." The woman says she felt ashamed at that.