I really think my column should deal with more green ideas, green articles, greenifying our surroundings and my recent trip to the airport reminded me of this purpose.
With all these natural disasters like the quiet but furious Seniang which caused more deaths than the “most prepared-for” Ruby, there must be something one can do to mitigate climate change and hopefully prevent more disasters.
It all starts with our culture.
Let’s start with the airports. Have you waited for your car upon arrival at any of the Terminals? You would almost always find a pesky car infront of you, just quietly parked, yes parked, and pretending not to see you in a “no parking” zone. They would rather inconvenience you than find parking and wait with just their physical bodies at the arrival area.
I remember that in San Francisco airport, a taped message repeatedly tells you that “cars in the loading area will be towed immediately”. You can almost remember the taped message like a “last song syndrome” because it goes on and on until your car comes. And it works. Nobody parks in the “loading and unloading area”only. “The white zone is for loading and unloading only…” the announcement goes. In our country of karaokes and videokes, we cannot even put a public address system like this to warn all pesky motorists to get away from the “white zone” or “red zone” or whatever they want to call the “loading and unloading zone”.
Nobody follows because no one gets caught or is inconvenienced.
It is this “bahala na” and “I don’t care” attitude that brings all the garbage outside, that makes us not form lines to queue, that makes us do a “oneupmanship” anywhere we go.
How about in the office? Or the store? Or where you work?
Do you see how office workers just leave their trash at work? I remember an experience with Korean culture during my first few trips to the modern city. The kids are taught how to pick up trash at a young age. We stayed in a serviced apartment, and we cleaned and put away our trash even if we were paying guests. In fact, all convenience stores sell small trash bags at retail so you have no reason not to find a trash bag. Why is this so? Because that is their culture.
Our culture needs some rehashing in the “trash” department. We are so used to living with trash we find it normal to see it in the office, in stores, everywhere. Go to the Chao Praya river tour in Bangkok and see how even informal settlers have clean homes. Why? It is their culture not to litter where they live.
And finally at home. How do we keep our homes?
I just got a gift from my wishlist which is about the Shintoist way of removing clutter. It’s called “The life-changing magic of tidying up” –the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. By Marie Kondo. It’s an International Best seller which I first heard about through Jenny Javier at the Manilaspeak dinner. I am in Chapter one and hope to finish it before the New Year sets in.
Let’s remove our clutter, because they say a cluttered house is the sign of a cluttered mind. And I believe that. And only after we clean our homes can we clean our country. Why? Because it is our culture.
In the provinces, when you go to visit small nipa huts, they are spotlessly clean. This is the only space they have, so they keep it spanking clean and almost sterile. We , who live in the city, depend on cleaning services, household staff and other forms of assistance. And this is where the difference lies. We have got to do it ourselves. It is only us or we that can dispose of things we no longer need, we no longer use or we should not have kept in the first place.
So, this new year, just do it. Clean up our homes, our work place and then hopefully we can clean up the country.
Before we clean up the country, we must also obey rules and be sensitive about others. It is not just our airports. It is everywhere in our system because the people don’t care and they have learned to live with such a culture.
But I am hopeful things can still change. Maybe we should start with our children. Show them good examples of cleaning up our homes, our work place, and finally our society.
A Bright Future Maybe?
Maybe the future will still be a bright one with less storms and typhoons and Nature’s incessant reminders of Climate Change. Nature simply is reminding us to be mindful. Of our waste, Of our ways. Of our habits.
And it doesn’t matter where we live. Even if you are in exclusive Magallanes, you could have a flood. It is just next door to poorer Malibay. Because floods and natural disasters do not choose social strata or class. No one is spared from these reminders from Nature.
Let’s start the New Year right. Declutter and tidy up. Our Culture needs it.