Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

For Earth Day: Talking of Trash in Tenerife


Seems like a might have been a bit ahead of myself with the previous post. Perhaps I should have posted it today – Earth Day?  Something I could write about, seemingly, forever, even with the limited knowledge I have!  Still, there is one. particular thing which has been irking me of late, which is connected to the theme, and it is the most basic thing possible that everyone on the planet can do to help protect it and make life pleasanter for those around us, as well as ourselves, and that is pick up, take home or deposit in the appropriate place your bl**dy RUBBISH!

I write about trash in Tenerife because it’s where I live, but don’t get the idea that I’m dissing Tenerife specifically.  It happens the world over, as blogger Barbara Weibel disclosed in her blog, HoleintheDonut, the other day – even in countries which we imagine as being more “innocent” in this respect.    I simply write about where and what my own current experience is.

First the good stuff:  Almost everywhere I go in Tenerife the local councils have excellent provision for recycling.  Within two minutes of my apartment in El Médano there are three places where I can deposit paper, glass and plastics/tins for recycling, right by the containers for tossing what rubbish is left after you’ve subtracted those items. It makes it so easy, compared, say, to places in England which I know  (Sadly, no organic recycling, though I know they have it on the mainland).  This has been true of everywhere I lived over the past six years, which is 3 different towns, and two different municipalities.  Even up in the Teide National Park you can find them.

There are also places called Punto Limpio, where you can take heavier rubbish to dispose of, like old furniture, tv sets, tires, x-rays, batteries and other such things.  The nearest one to me is about fifteen minutes away, and they open Sundays.

Isn’t all of that wonderful? Simple and easy?  Now for the bad stuff:  so then, why do people leave broken chairs, bicycles, surf boards or old ovens cluttering up the street next to the garbage containers? Why do they throw everything from candy wrappers to cigarette ends to entire bags of rubbish out of cars? Why, when walking in the country  do I invariably come across abandoned cars, heaps of builders’ rubbish and tossed-out ‘fridges, not to mention tin cans and cigarette ends?  Right next to where I stood last year to take this snap

there were two piles of trash including paint cans, a burnt-out car door and fenders, chunks of concrete blocks and cement bags.  This on a famous walk to see the beauty of the almond blossoms, and much promoted by the council of Santiago del Teide and even by the island government.

I used to have a file of photos of trash, maybe thinking of doing a post like this, but I deleted them all some time ago, feeling guilty about dwelling on the unpleasant side of life, when there is, truly, so much beauty around me constantly.  However, just the other day I had to suppress my anger, when we were queuing for the casting for the Titans movie (not heard anything btw, so that’s a no-go then).  I mentioned the casting happened about a minute’s walk from my house, actually, just by where I snapped this photo a few months back –

Along the seashore, next to the dunes, there is a low wall, which was very handy on the day, as it gave folk a place to perch whilst waiting.  However, as the queue began to move along we realized that, like us, many people had taken food or drink to tide them over, and that many people were tossing their rubbish over onto the dunes, amongst the junipers which grow there.

When Cristina was spotted taking snaps she was asked, sarcastically, if she was from Greenpeace, i.e. what gives you the right to record our abuse of the landscape?!  You see, I’d like to have thought that a bit of education was necessary, but clearly they knew why we were snapping, and they were aware of what Greenpeace is.  It was so absolutely arrogant and uncaring and disrespectful of others as to be astounding.

You could say that the local council does its bit to try to improve things.  They actually have an environmental department, and they produce very good leaflet.

It covers subjects like how to use household appliances and lighting and still save electricity, including how best to wash the dishes, saving electricity in the bathroom, information about cleaning products and air-conditioning/heating, responsible use and disposal of batteries, paper and  computers.  There is even a section on cosmetics and personal hygiene items, and on the last page (above) advice about what you can and cannot put in those recycling bins.  So how come people were sitting on that wall throwing their paper cups and  food wrappings onto the beach?  And I’m only talking about the aesthetics of it here really – don’t let’s get into the subject of the damage it might do to wildlife.  I can only say that I was totally, totally disgusted, and not only by the fact that they were doing it, but that they did it knowingly and were shameless about it.

Tell me, if you lived somewhere like this –

why, on earth,  would you want to foul it?  These pictures were taken in various places in the south of the island, when walking Trixy mainly, the sort of places where people like to go to enjoy the beauty of nature, as you can see.  I don’t mean to imply that every one of the over one thousand people in that queue were irresponsibly discarding their litter, or that every car you pass on the road is tossing trash from its windows, or that everyone is so arrogant and uncaring.  The fact that the booklet is produced, that there are such excellent systems for recycling says far more for the island than those igits, but there is still something lacking, and if education isn’t working, then penalties must be imposed for fouling our living space.

My apologies to those of you elsewhere, which is most of you, I know, I need to rant a bit, and I know it’s probably boring if you don’t live here.  Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible (as the BBC used to say).


Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

2 thoughts on “For Earth Day: Talking of Trash in Tenerife

  1. now don’t get me started! first the good stuff. the row of bins you show is almost like the row of bins every householder has. we have three and two are recylcing. some local authorities do a mixture of bins and boxes and bags for paper and cardboard. the downside is that in places (and there are many) where houses have a tiny front garden and no rear access for the huge wagon to empty these bins, they have to sit in the tiny front garden, so what where pretty little streets have become messed up with BINS. for the larger things we can go to ‘the tip’. forever that has been in St Annes, just the other side of the Queensway. Once there your stuff was divided and much recylced. a team of helpful men came to your car and gave you a hand sorting into wood, electrical, garden waste, texiles and so on. they also had the facilty for the more usual glass and plastic and papers too. as you left there was a sign say what percentage of waste had been recylced last month. it was always 75% or above, sometimes up to 90%. and you always felt good leaving. It has been closed down, a victim of all the cut backs the councils are making. that authority has another tip at the very far end of Lytham (Saltcoates). tip users ran campaigns to save the tip but nope it has closed, and I await a rash of mattresses and other large stuff cluttering the countryside. If you wish to dispose of large items you have to pay the council to take them away. the tip was free of charge except to businesses like builders and gardeners who had to pay. If they had even charged every car £1 they would have been well patronised.
    The people who come to visit and sit ‘en famile’ watching the sea and sunset etc have a picnic and then leave eveything just where they had been sitting. I have seen this time and again whilst walking the promenade. Plenty of bins. o.k. they get full and the gulls also come along and pull things out. I think they need emptying more frequently than once in the mornings but probably not able to pay for that.
    which brings me to dog dirt!! we also have plenty of bins for that, and it is much better BUT people still let their dogs foul the promenade and it is not well partolled or enforced. same with litter laws, which exist. If children learn to ‘litter’ from their parents and grown up thinking it’s fine, then were all doomed!!
    landfil – well thats a whole blog for you. if Henry VIII had gone to Tesco’s (great vision) and got his shopping a plastic bag, that bag would still be around in a landfill someplace. and all those disposable nappies leaking poison – ugh enough enough.

    • It sounds pretty similar. The methods might be different, but the thing is that people are too damned lazy to bother at the end of the day. Fining used to work in the UK, obviously it doesn’t any longer (maybe not the manpower to police it?). Maybe we ask too much of people, expecting them to be responsible for their own environment, as well as not fouling ours because we live alongside them?

      Maybe we should follow the example Barbara Weibel quotes in that link and be more like Vietnam, and simply employ people to clear up after people? At least it would help the unemployment problem! But in Britain we always used to have an education system based on teaching people to think for themselves, although I suspect that’s long gone now from what people tell me?

      I do belong to an environmental group, but we are very restricted by a local authority in what we can do. I totally agree that more has to be done in schools. I’ve seen kids picking up after their parents. It does work. I also think that educating seniors is a good idea too. Certainly, it would be here. Seniors here didn’t really have to deal with this problem in their young day, and may be excluded from the propaganda which goes out these days. Of course, also, in many cases they are also responsible for their grandchildren when parents are working, so between the two groups they should be able to educate that middle generation, squeeze them into being better.

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