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Rant: It’s the litter stupid!

April 17, 2006
A crackdown on "hooliganism" (which best describes it) on local public transport started at the beginning of April in Helsinki. HS International reported as a footnote that "untidy" train stations would be cleaned up. (Details here: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Crackdown+reduces+nuisance+passengers+from+local+trains+in+Helsinki+area/1135219408879)
 
This opens my space for the next several lines in which I will rant about how much I hate littering – and Finns are litter bugs extraordinaire! The amount of litter and dog sh*t that appears on the ground on any given day in this country is a bloody disgrace. The average Finn professes to love the "clean" nature in Finland, which is what distinguishes it from other nature-loving countries. What a bunch of hooey!
 
The Espoon keskus train station has got to be one of the scuzziest places I know of in this city. The spit, vomit, urine, cigarette butts, broken bottles, bird crap, dog droppings, newspapers, discarded food, candy wrappers, bottle caps, beer cans, gum and all sorts of other unsightly garbage at the station leaves me speechless – or rather fuming… (I wish I had a picture to show you after a typical Friday or Saturday night… unfortunately, I don’t.)
 
Start teaching the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) in school for blimey’s sake! Teaching kids to be kind to the environment will do wonders in the future – start now! Finland is a throw-away society, which has evolved into materialism in the largest proportions. In my opinion materialism is openly encouraged by the media, and this is one root of the littering and garbage problem Finland has. Go into the middle of the forest and it won’t be long until you find discarded trash all over the place. (Last fall I reported a large pile of discarded metal to the Espoo Environmental Engineering Unit. They found it and have plans to pick up this spring. So there is some good in reporting large piles of garbage! If you find any in your area, report it!)
 
<breathe – rant is over>
 
Alright – here’s a start, got stuff you want to give away? Are you in the capital area? Join the Helsinki Freecycle Yahoogroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/helsinkifreecycle/ and get rid of your unwanted stuff for free!
 
The Finnish Ministry of the Environment (www.environment.fi) is currently hosting a series of ads on TV (I’ve never seen a government ministry do this before…), which encourages Finns to recycle their old cars – for free. Free car recycling was introduced in 2005 to battle the spate of cars abandoned on the highways all over the country. People were simply too cheap to pay a little bit of money to do the environment some good. (That reads like a bit of a rant, eh? )
 
On the other hand there has been a measure of success in electronics recycling, as reported by YLE News on April 3: http://www.yle.fi/news/id31447.html. This has partly been achieved by including the price of recycling in the purchasing price of an electronic item. In the past people have had to pay to get rid of their old electronics. When the Mr. and I moved to our new home awhile back, we paid €9 to get rid of an old black and white TV. I didn’t have a problem paying the service charge. In other places people get away with throwing away their "junk" for free; minor service charges mean that some level of care will go into disposing of these items properly. However, including the price of recycling in the price of a product means that everyone will do their part in some way. I am all for it.
 
Do your part for the environment, reduce, reuse and recycle! And pick up after your dog!
 
p.s. Fights about "poop and scoop" in Finland are a whole ‘nother can of worms, believe me! I won’t even touch that one this time around.
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