Discuss ways to satisfy your urge to travel without ruining the places we all want to see. Take only photographs, leave only footprints...

When in Rome.......?

Yamina

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  • Added on: May 20th, 2007
Hello guys........

A little environmental/moral/ethical dilemma.... In general when I'm at home in England I try to 'do my bit' by recycling, using paper rather than plastic bags, etc etc.

However, in the happy lands of Algeria, the whole environmental thing just isn't of interest to anyone........ I was horrified to see my sister-in-law throwing a huge plastic bag (filled with the remnants of our meal, yoghurt pots, plastic packaging etc) out of the car window as we sped along some beautiful roads in the Algerian countryside.

Having spent a lot of time in some of the poorer areas of Algiers, (and other parts of the country), it's obvious that this is just the norm and that people aren't bothered by it.

When I asked my cousin about it he said that in Algeria there are just too many other things to worry about (unemployment, lack of medical facilities, corruption, unstable political situation etc).

So, as I know that there are many other countries in this situation, I'm wondering to what extent when travelling one should just accept the culture of the place you visit? We all try to be respectful of religion, food, social behaviour etc etc, so should we also do this with attitudes to the environment?

Personally, I tend to collect up all our rubbish and take it home with me (much to the amusement of my family!), and I'm certainly not going to start chucking it in the street. However, to what extent should I be engaging people in conversation about eco issues?

Maybe there's a very fine line between dialogue and 'missionary zeal'!!!!!

KateL57

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  • Added on: May 21st, 2007
ooh - I think about this too. In some places it is just not possible to recycle and also people aren't really thinking about things in that way.

It first of all struck me in India that people just use so much less. Paper towels and disposable plates - in my experience there - are just not done. Packaging isn't wasteful, etc. But I also visited a waterfall where the path was illuminated with bags of chips and candy wrappers.

I don't know the answer - and I worry like you about coming across as unfairly judgmental - especially knowing that in my own country - the US - it's easy to recycle when someone comes to your driveway to collect your bottles (and the lifestyle in the US creates many many times the amount of waste that the lifestyle in other countries does of course). On the one hand, it's fair enough that people have other things to worry about, but on the other, recycling and littering and such are things that will also affect them eventually.

Good topic.
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jv

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  • Added on: May 21st, 2007
Yes, this can be a tough situation. I concur on not being too preachy, no matter what the subject. But in many circumstances, there's no need to sacrifice your principles.

To me, it at least partially comes down to whether "your way" will somehow offend the local people, or if it will just be seen as an oddity. Sometimes it's somewhere in between or hard to tell. But in this case, keeping your garbage to later toss in a trash can is more likely to bring a "heh, wacky foreigner," than a "you have besmirched my honor and denigrated my culture!" In other words, there's a low risk of offending.

If you do keep to your environmentalist "cultural habits," I'm sure this will create many opportunities for comment, if for no other reason than that everyone will think you're weird. I wouldn't go any further than to simply explain it in neutral terms, without being too judgmental. Chances are that some people will agree with you.

I get the whole "we have bigger problems" explanation. But on a personal level, properly disposing trash and feeding your family aren't exactly mutually exclusive. It's more likely that that this "bigger problems" rationale has resulted in less effort by the government, nonprofits, NGOs, schools, etc. to educate the populace, enforce litter laws, and so on.

Eowyn218

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  • Added on: May 22nd, 2007
quote:
Originally posted by jv:
Yes, this can be a tough situation. I concur on not being too preachy, no matter what the subject. But in many circumstances, there's no need to sacrifice your principles.


I tend to agree here. In the instance of choosing not to throw garbage out the window, I don't see how that would cause offense - yes, maybe it would seem odd to the locals. But I don't see the trash disposal/wanting to recycle thing as an ethical dilemna at all. There's no reason why you should feel compelled to follow suit and start littering everywhere! :-)

But for other enviromental issues, it quickly becomes complicated in many regions of the world when you begin factoring in economics and the fact that for many people exploiting the environment is a means to survival, and can pay much more than not exploiting it, sadly. No, preaching about it isn't the answer, but there are organizations out there that strive towards sustainable development and trying to shift the perception of conservation/clean air/clean water towards more of a benefit to life, rather than a hindrance to life.

But regarding this --

>We all try to be respectful of religion, food, social >behaviour etc etc, so should we also do this with >attitudes to the environment?

I've recently realized that there is a swath of the world that I have no desire to travel to, and it's a direct result of their food/medicinal practices that affect the environment adversely. While I find it culturally interesting, and while the lifestyle was fully sustainable centuries ago, it isn't sustainable in the 21st century. So, I don't want to support it in any way. So....my long point is that I don't really buy into the notion that just because something is different, I should automatically appreciate it and accept it. I'm not going to accept something, just for the sake of 'not judging.' If that makes me non-open-minded and non-culturally sensitive, then there you have it!

Landire

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  • Added on: May 22nd, 2007
I just can't bring myself to litter. I would rather carry my trash for days than drop it on the ground. It doesn't matter to me where I'm at. Though I would make an exception if I were in an actual dump. But I don't do that very often either.
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KateL57

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  • Added on: May 22nd, 2007
My take on the original post was not that she is about to start littering, but that she feels that maybe she should do or say something when she sees others doing that.

I think everyone has made good points. My interest is in the wider topic of environmentally behavior in general, rather than just on littering, which seems easy to avoid - but I do think how to respond to this is a very real dilemma.
Make cay, not war - Kesmen

linds

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  • Added on: April 17th, 2008
God I almost have apoplexy when I see people littering. I can't help it, it's one of my OCD strains.

I have even been known to give out to strangers - usually in the UK I might add, who should know better. There's a knack though so it doesn't seem too rude. It works great on the underground.

If ever anyone chucks things on the floor or leaves their fast-food rubbish behind, pick it up and shout after them, "Excuse me, excuse me, I think you left something behind." They always turn around concerned and then are affronted when they're handed their rubbish. Try it, it works.

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Arre

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2009
I can't recall ever confronting someone about being wasteful, even in my own country. I try to do my part, but I have a hard time bringing myself to lecture other people about being eco-friendly. Still, think it's only a matter of time until I start bringing it up (maybe once my own habits are sufficiently up to par, to avoid being hypocritical). I just read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman and it pretty much turned me into an instant environmentalist.

partymarty4870

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  • Added on: July 4th, 2010
I thnk as long as you are happy within yourself with your actions thats all that matters.
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tvl2

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  • Added on: October 28th, 2010
Your realization is what the people need to start with, in order to save the world. :)



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