When people still trash a restaurant floor, it's hard to talk about keeping a country clean

By Le Quang Dai   December 11, 2023 | 03:18 pm PT
When people still trash a restaurant floor, it's hard to talk about keeping a country clean
Trash is littered on the floor of an eatery in Da Nang City. Photo by Luan
We often talk about public awareness for matters such as littering, queuing, or speeding on the road.

However, to form a sense of self-awareness and to behave politely in public is not easy, if not extremely difficult when self-indulgence, messiness, and selfishness are deeply ingrained in people's subconscious.

To many people, the lack of awareness has become a normality. My wife owns a small grocery store, and nearby there is a noodle production facility. Its workers often come to my wife's store to buy cakes and drinks.

In front of the store, we placed a set of stone tables and chairs for them to sit and eat. In the past, we often hung a large plastic bag a few steps away from where they sat so they could conveniently put their trash in there.

However, very few of them were willing to put their trash in those bags. After eating and drinking, they threw away the bottles or wrappings right on the spot and we had to collect them and put them in a bag to take to the public trash cans.

Then I thought hanging bags like that might be a bit inconvenient for them to put their trash in. So I bought a plastic basket to use as a bin. We continued to remind them to put their trash in the basket after each meal. But it only lasted a few days before the littering went back to before.

It became embarrassing to remind them all the time, so we stopped at some point and just waited for them to leave to clean up.

This does not just happen a our place. I have eaten out at some eateries which had a small trash basket under each table, but I saw a lot of diners who didn’t even bother to put their trash in the baskets.

They just throw their trash, from the napkins to lemon pulp and vegetable stems randomly on the floor, or all over the place on the tables.

A store or an eatery is a very small space, and it’s already hard to make people keep it clean. Imagine trying that with large public spaces like a bus station or a beach.

There’s been a lot of propaganda to educate people about public cleanliness, but I do not think it is enough, and it has not been done effectively.

We need education programs strong enough to make people willing to keep public places clean out of national pride, and rules should be drastic enough to make them scared about not doing so.

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