How can we prevent the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish?

Despite attempts by the authorities to keep Laos clean, the situation seems only to be getting worse, as evidenced by the many places in Vientiane that are strewn with refuse. At schools and universities, litter abounds and toilets stink and the impression is that most people simply don’t care. Vientiane Times sought opinions on this chronic problem from people around the country.

 

Ms Chanthida Heuangpanya, a college student in Champassak province: Plastic bags are the main problem. It takes a long time for them to break down in the environment but too many people don’t care how many plastic bags they use every day. It’s especially bad during festivals. I’ve never seen festival organisers trying to reduce the use of plastic bags. When a festival is over, everything and everyone has gone except for the huge amount of garbage that’s left behind. Even though there are rubbish bins at some events, these are not very obvious and it seems that no one is bothered about cleanliness. It’s very important that we teach everyone about the need to reduce the use of and reuse plastic bags. And dirty toilets are something else that need attending to, especially in school and public restrooms. In schools especially, an example needs to be set so that students develop the right values with regard to standards of hygiene and what’s acceptable.

Ms Khamda Inthasak, a resident of Oudomxay province: I think children are our future so we should teach them well especially about caring for our surroundings and keeping towns clean and green. It’s important that we set a good example because youngsters will imitate their elders. While adults continue to dump garbage by rivers and along roads, children will do the same. It amazes me that village heads allow this in their neighbourhoods and that no one is ever reprimanded or penalised for throwing large amounts of garbage in public places. Everyone should be taught and required to dispose of waste properly. If children grow up with an understanding of the need for a healthy environment, these lessons will be passed on to the next generation.

Mr Khampheuy Saengchampa, an employee in Luang Prabang province: It’s quite hard to keep Laos clean because most people aren’t well educated about the problem and regulations on the issue aren’t tough enough or enforced. So no one cares about what they do with their garbage. Many streets in Vientiane are now surfaced with asphalt or concrete but there’s still plenty of litter around, as well as a lot of dust. It seems that no one has any sense of civic pride. Sometimes I see people cleaning around their houses, but only a few. 

Ms Chansamone Xayasan, an employee in Xaysettha district: The flood of plastic trash never stops, especially in Vientiane. The city’s administration tries to ensure that household waste is collected and there are also regular clean-ups by villagers in some places, but this doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Laws and rules exist to curb the littering and burning of trash by imposing fines on those who break the rules but I’ve never heard of anyone being fined. I think these regulations should be enforced so that people realise that dumping rubbish is offensive and unacceptable. In addition, more people in Vientiane should pay for rubbish collection and make use of this service. The administration should work with street vendors, shop owners, plastic makers and everyone who distributes plastic products to encourage them to reduce the use of plastic bags, which rapidly becomes plastic waste.

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update December 25, 2018)


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