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The difference between decency and trashing the joint

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-11 06:51

  The difference between decency and trashing the joint

 Cai Meng/China Daily

Civility dictates that we change the old habit of improperly disposing of garbage in public places.

When we talk about leaving a carbon footprint it may be worthwhile reminding ourselves of something less esoteric, something like the rubbish each of us leaves behind wherever we set foot outside.

The difference between decency and trashing the joint

No standing in the way of 'progress' 

The difference between decency and trashing the joint

The bling and hollow ring of ill-gotten gains 

After 120,000 people poured into Tian'anmen Square in Beijing on the morning of Oct 1 to witness the raising of the national flag, they left behind 3.5 tons of garbage, and it was reported that the four-day total was 32 tons. A 150-person-strong team was brought in to clean up so visitors who had to sit on the ground for a respite would find it clean enough for the purpose, a standard of cleanliness cited in the media.

In fact, the situation in the nation's capital is heartening. The quantity of 3.5 tons is 30 percent less than that of last year, and indeed the quantity has been falling through the years.

Then again, Beijing may not be representative of the country in this aspect. Reports during the seven-day National Day holiday were less encouraging: Wherever there was a traffic jam - and there were many partly because of toll exemptions, there was a significant stretch of garbage tossed from vehicles. Outside the guardrail along one section in eastern China's Zhejiang province there was a ditch of cans, cigarette butts and food leftovers that may leave the keenest of sleuths perplexed. But the explanation is simple: The shoulder of the highway was used for temporary parking during extremely bad congestion.

The most dramatic trash-tossing incident happened near Mount Taishan, Shandong province. As a garbage collector climbed over a safety rail to pick up trash stuck on the cliff, a tourist kept up his pleasure of seeing his trash flying over the cliff. When he was told to stop, he retorted: "But won't you be out of a job if I don't throw my litter around?"

To which the garbage collector muttered: "I'd rather nobody litter and be out of work."

I don't know what went through his head when the tourist blurted out his justification. I'd interpret it as an ill-timed attempt at humor. Perhaps he truly believed what he said - that a gross negligence of civic duty would boost the employment rate as others can get busy rectifying what he does.

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