An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Monday, July 25, 2005


It has taken a long time, but it has finally boiled up in me and I just want to yell "what is wrong with you people?".

It's the rubbish. I am sick of it. I am also sick of the attitude, that chucking it on the ground is OK. "Someone else will pick it up" is no doubt the thought. Or perhaps they just believe it will disappear or dissolve. My haus meri seems to think this is what happens, she constantly throws plastic bags on my compost heap even though I tell her it is for organic scraps only.

It was truly dispiriting walking to and from work today. Plastic, plastic, plastic everywhere. Mostly left over from the weekend soccer games. Chip packets, ice block skins, biscuit wrappers, heavy-duty meat tray packaging, it was all there. I would like to think that the general lack of rubbish bins played a big part of the mess, but a most of the rubbish was with in close range of an (empty) 44 gallon drum.

The attitude is wide spread. I have witnessed it numerous times. A couple of incidences that still stick in my mind: travelling out to the airport early in my placement I was horrified to see the packet from the Twisties I had bought my mate get tossed when done; climbing the highest mountain in the country and seeing our guide throw the empty plastic wrapper away in the pristine alpine environment; constant empty coke bottles (usually filled bright red and brimming with buai spit) chucked from the bus along the highlands highway.

I did occaisionally try to reason with the person about the act they did - especially the Mount Wilhelm guide - but now I just give up. It sounds upon deaf ears.

Wondering about why this so entrenched leads me to a few conclusions. Perhaps their attitude stems from the old Melanesian instincts that everything was easily grown or got and therefore even easier to discard. Or perhaps they just believe someone else will clean it up (which probably is what will happen at the sports fields). Though I can't see this happening (and it doesn't) along the roadsides.

Perhaps incentives to recycle could be introduced. This certainly works for aluminium cans, you never see any of those around, but I suspect the recycling plant which would be needed first is not high on any priority lists.

A PNG equivalent of Clean Up Australia Day would be a great idea and a little bit (or more) of education would be good steps. I won't be making bets on anytime soon though. Arn't I just turning into the pessimist now?