Here in Yantai are some world-class litterers. And, apparently, they get their education at an early age. I wouldn’t call the students or Yantai students indifferent to the litter and garbage that surrounds them, but they are. On campus, there are several trashcans scattered around, but it seems they are always full. Each room has a trash receptacle, but floors, especially in the primary classrooms, are littered—no surprise there.
And here’s the rub and probably the answer to the trash blowing in the wind: the students are the one’s responsible for keeping the campus clean. Not just picking up litter, but sweeping and swabbing the floors, the hallways, the stairs, the sidewalks, the grassy areas, the windows, even the toilets, and all things in between. Every student has an area of responsibility. There are room monitors, floor monitors, toilet monitors, window monitors, sidewalk monitors—you get the picture.
In all fairness, the foregoing photo of the garbage/trash dump was taken after the regular run was missed by the company that hauls the trash from Qing Quan. Where DO you put it when there ain’t no WHERE to put it. The students answered that and eventually the trash disappeared. In the meantime, the rats and the cats loved it.
So, it’s not surprising that all of the trash doesn’t get picked up. These monitors are unpaid and don’t have to worry about job security. Beyond the campus, I think the infrastructure just doesn’t exist to keep the city clean.
But I’m not going to give the citizen a pass on this due to lack of infrastructure. Littering is an inbred cultural habit. I’ve watched as people will pass as close as 10 feet to a trash receptacle and blithely toss whatever on the street. Driving down the highway is an experience of dodging windblown paper (and other things).
But I’m not going to give us in the US a complete pass either. “Don’t Mess With Texas” was not invented in 1986 because GSD&M had nothing better to do. We were world-class litterers as I recall. And not too many years before 1986 Texans were professional in our lining the bar ditches with Lone Star and Pearl cans that wouldn’t deteriorate until 2112, if then.
Yantai is a lovely city. Situated on the Bohai Sea and teeming with flower gardens, interesting architecture, and fashionably dressed citizens (see previous), it has the potential to be one of Asia’s loveliest cities. But, they need a phalanx of Singaporeans to descend on the city and clean it up first.
And they’re not going to clean up Yantai relying solely on litter collectors with sacks and sticks. They seriously need more equipment, but there’s a problem (And I’ll more comment on this subject later): There is no property tax or municipal bonding in China! Think about it.