In a 2006 Indian film, an underworld don turned Radio Jockey tries to resolve callers’ problem with lessons learnt from Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhism/Gandhigiri). One such scene involves a caller fuming over an issue with his neighbor. His neighbor happens to be a compulsive spitter.
I wonder if his compulsiveness to spit on the caller’s door has anything to do with what he chews. In India, many people who are like this spitter chew on a psychoactive preparation called ‘paan’. Some swallow and some spit. The latter seems more prevalent. Munnabhai, the don-cum-RJ in the movie offers help. He advises his caller to greet the spitter with a smile each time he catches him spit and clean up the mess he has made. For days at end the spitter continues his thoughtless act. Frustrated, the caller calls Munnabhai again and is suggested to continue to do the same. Finally, as is shown in the movie, the spitter feels ashamed to spew out the staining cocktail and instead apologizes to the caller. The caller rejoices and so do the listeners. So will you if you watch the clip I just described, if you haven’t already.
Why should anything be clean?
Are people more inclined to litter a place that is already dirtied than to do the same at a cleaner place? May be. The most important question is why should places be kept clean? Places that aren’t clean not only breed diseases, but also lose its aesthetic value (which unfortunately many in India don’t consider). As children we are taught of hygiene but when we grow up why do we fail to apply it beyond ourselves or ours houses? The answer may lie in the absence of direct effects of such activities. It’s not like how we recoil from fire in order to protect ourselves from a burn. An example of indirect effect would be Leptospirosis, a disease. Rats are attracted to leftovers that people discard in public places. If any of these rats bears a disease, its infected urine can contaminate any water body it comes in contact with. If you happen to have an open wound on your body, let’s say your feet, and if you put your feet in such a water body, you can acquire a lethal disease called Leptospirosis. This is just one example.
Aesthetics and human psychology:
It is human nature to be attracted to beautiful things. It is also human nature to be repelled by things that look ugly. While the perception of beauty is subjective, there are many examples where we share the same view on things that are beautiful or ugly. A litter-free place can contribute to emotional well-being of people. If I ask you to choose between two apartments to live: one clean and the other with stained and chipped walls, which one would you prefer? I bet we have an unanimous answer. We would all choose the clean place to live. This being a constricted question, a much broader question would be one that applies to public spaces. We would all like to spend our time in a garden that is clean and green, won’t we?
In the general field of Environmental Psychology an increasing number of studies propose that subjects’ general well-being can be significantly increased as a result of contact with environments considered to have high aesthetic value. – Psychology in Spain, 2000, Vol. 4. No 1, 13-27 Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos
In 1988, Taylor and Gousie found that the architectural settings of a school can “facilitate the transmission of cultural values, stimulate or subdue, aid in creativity or slow mental perception, and cause fear or joy” – University of Georgia
German researchers found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. – New York Times
When there are such undeniable benefits from clean and beautiful things, why not inculcate them into our lives?
Sanitation – a privilege in India:
In India, while sanitation and hygiene is a privilege for many, many also neglect it. The repercussions of which cost lives and the economy.
A recent study by the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank estimates that inadequate sanitation costs India the equivalent of 6.4% of its GDP. –India Sanitation Portal
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has always been on the forefront when it comes to creating awareness. Many attempts have been made to keep India clean and green. The new Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has called for a cleanliness drive for Indian Railways. The purpose of this drive is to create awareness among the travelers to keep railway areas clean.
There’s so much plastic litter out there that if you set out to collect it from all over the world and sell it, recycle it, convert it fuel, you might end up on Forbes’ list of richest people in the world. There is so much of it that a new kind of rock is being naturally formed out of this plastic waste. There has been so much of it for so long time that bacteria have started to live on it. This is a serious problem for every part of the world and vertebrates mistakenly eating it – the fishes especially. Humans eat fish, right? The joke is on us.
Recently, Illinois became the first state to ban microbeads – small plastic bits found in cosmetic products such as facewashes.
Plastic litter has many environmental consequences, it not only harms us but also other living creatures that come in contact with it. It looks as if plastic litter is the only litter we make. It is not the case. Plastic or not, litter causes problems.
According to the most authoritative study, it constitutes only 0.6 percent of visible litter across the United States. So, even banning all plastic bags would have little impact on overall litter. – Fox & Hounds Daily
We can deal with this. It starts with me and you.
‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ – Mahatma Gandhi