BY EVENING, plastic cups, juice boxes, cans, plastic bags and straws litter the streets of C.M. Recto and Sta. Ana in downtown Davao.

The garbage that horribly decorates the streets indicates that until now, despite the various environmental policies enacted in Davao, and despite being taught to us in schools that pollution is bad, we haven’t quite realized the importance of not littering.

There are two things that can point out to why this keeps going on: underestimation and apathy.

The idea that one cannot make a difference by throwing the garbage in a trash can is one of the greatest factors that propagate this pollution.

It is one of the biggest illusions we believe in. It’s false because every piece of trash that we throw may mean the difference between a flood in the streets and a clog-free sewer. What’s more problematic is that if everyone thinks this way, trash will keep piling up.

There’s an alarming lack of concern for what happens in our environment.

We are so engrossed in other problems at work or school or recreation that many times we find it petty to worry about our environment. There’s a high dependence on waste collectors to eventually pick up our trash or on street sweepers to eventually sweep them away.

Keeping the streets clean, however, is not only their job. It’s the job of everyone who lives in this environment. We are going to face the consequences of our apathy in the long run if this persists. Waste collectors and street sweepers cannot shoulder the burden of keeping everything clean.

Littering makes the streets home to rodents. It clogs the drainage system that’s supposed to prevent street floods. It makes the city look less beautiful than it should be. These are things that concern us all, not just the waste collector and the street sweeper.

No matter how many policies we have—be it a litter ban, or a plastic ban—if the average citizen does not begin to care and realize the responsibility, nothing will really change.

Besides, how hard could it possibly be to throw a candy wrapper in the nearest trash can? (Vanessa Kate F. Madrazo)


Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class under Gemima Valderrama.