(MENAFN - Arab News) MY RELATIVE WAS trying to enjoy the newly renovated Corniche in Jeddah, when she saw a young teenage girl carelessly throwing trash on the pavement.
She gently scolded her and asked her if she would she throw trash around her own house? The girl callously replied, "Yes, there is a maid who picks up after me." Needless to say, the reply left my relative dumbstruck.
However, the reply speaks volumes about the upbringing of this girl, and I'm sure many others like her, starting with the bad attitude and disrespect.
The other problem with the girl's behavior is the disregard for keeping public places clean, which from her reply seems to apply even at home, because there is someone to clean up after her. The most glaring problem was her parents who are supposed to be role models.
They were sitting a distance away not knowing or caring what their daughter was doing, also discarding around them a pile of garbage of their own because they too depend on someone else cleaning up after them even though the garbage can was only a few steps away.
A friend of mine manages a company for recycling and waste management. Disturbed by the ignorance and carelessness of people in grasping the importance of the issue, she plans to launch an awareness campaign. When I told her this story, she said that we obviously have an uphill battle to teach the parents first before we can teach the young.
This, however, should not be an individual effort but a consorted campaign in association with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information, the local municipality and the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment.
The problem is not only raising awareness but also correcting behavior, which is why the role of schools, community centers and the media is essential.
I was shocked and saddened at seeing the graffiti and damage done to the new Corniche only hours after it opened. Why would someone do that? Is it frustration, boredom, rebellion or ignorance of how to behave in public places? A friend told me that she saw a young teenage boy ferociously kicking at one of the garbage cans to break it off from its stand. First she tried to speak to him in a gentle way, but he ignored her and continued in his vendetta against the can until she threatened to call the police, and only then did he run away.
There must be police presence in public places to keep these juveniles from misbehaving and fines has to be imposed on anyone damaging or trashing public property. This kind of behavior is un-Islamic and universally uncivilized.
The 'massive campaign' reported a coupe of days ago to protect Jeddah's Corniche environment, while commendable, I think would be better utilized to tackle the big polluters like sewage dumped into the sea and factories located in residential areas. Round the clock police presence, cameras and clear signs against throwing trash and drawing graffiti or destroying property with the hefty fines that will be imposed on offenders will be more effective in keeping the Corniche clean and tidy.
I would assume that the people who are not so keen on keeping the Corniche clean or really care about environmental friendly spending and viable consumption patterns perhaps live in neighborhoods that are somewhat neglected in terms of basic services and facilities.
The message and implementation about environmental protection should be taken to their streets and neighborhoods. It is not only the corniche that should be taken care of but also all of Jeddah.