by Constantinos Pastos: 1st-year proficiency student at The Hydra Language School.
Assisted by: Sotiris Iliadis (teacher)
THE GARBAGE SITUATION IN HYDRA
We are all lucky to live on a beautiful island, which is also an important tourist destination. Hydra has many problems and one of the most serious ones is the garbage. We will try to present the situation about the garbage today and then we will try to suggest some solutions.
THE SITUATION TODAY
The Trucks: In Hydra we have 3 working garbage trucks, which gather the garbage from 7 to 9 in the morning every day. One of them was given as a donation from the municipality of Poros. Each of them has a different job, for example two of them take the small garbage bags and compress them with a machine in the back of the truck. The other one takes the heavier garbage items like furniture or electrical devices.
Sweepers and donkeys: The streets of Hydra are not very wide and the trucks can’t go everywhere, so in some places where the streets are narrow we have sweepers with brooms and people with donkeys who collect garbage bags from various locations.
Landfill: For years the garbage has been delivered to a landfill in Mandraki, not so far away from the port, where it is burned.
Recycling Machine: A recycling machine for plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans has been placed in the area of the main market since 2012. When the machine is full, the garbage is shipped to Athens for recycling. Sometimes the municipality organizes a recycling competition for students and whoever has recycled most wins something like a computer or a tablet.
Garbage collection times: There are set times (06:00 – 09:30) and places for the residents to take their garbage out.
Garbage collection – Trucks
Some citizens claim that the garbage trucks aren’t very well organized and don’t always follow their set itineraries. As a result, the garbage isn’t always collected in time and smells bad, especially during the summer months.
Garbage disposal – citizens
To some extent, people continue to litter the streets and beaches of Hydra. Of course, some say that there aren’t enough rubbish bins. There have also been complaints that many citizens don’t follow the rules and take their garbage bags out whenever they feel like it, outside the set times, which creates problems for the garbage collection efforts and makes the situation worse.
The practice of burning the garbage at the landfill in Mandraki has been banned by the European Union and an alternative solution is needed.
- Unfortunately, the recycling machine is often out of order and the citizens can’t use it. As a result, the people throw their garbage in the normal bins.
- Also when the recycling machine has no competition and no prizes very few students use it.
1) What can the Municipality do?
Garbage collection – Trucks
It is the responsibility of the municipality to make sure that the garbage trucks operate properly. Some citizens have also suggested that more trucks might be needed.
Garbage disposal – Citizens
- One obvious solution is to provide more rubbish bins.
- Another idea is to place cameras so that the municipality can identify and fine the offenders. This might discourage the offenders but also poses privacy concerns. Also, collecting the fines might be more difficult than it seems.
- A third solution might be through education. The municipality could organize seminars where the students of all the schools of Hydra would be educated by some experts about different topics like the environment, the threats of pollution and different methods of recycling. It could also organize an annual volunteer day. For example volunteers could go to different beaches and clean them and they could do the same on the streets and mountains of Hydra. In that way, the people would be educated and they would learn how important it is to help the environment.
An alternative solution is surely needed, not only because of the E.U. ban but also because of the constant risk of fire. This is a long-term problem and the solution is definitely not an easy one.
- It is clear that the recycling machine should be maintained regularly so that it is never out of order for a very long time.
- As far as the competitions are concerned, if the municipality cannot afford the prizes, maybe they should look for sponsors sensitive to the educational value of this initiative.
2) What can we do?
- We should always use the rubbish bins even if they are not as close to us as we would like.
- We should only take out our garbage bags in the morning between 06:30 and 09:30.
- Parents should educate their children at home and teach them environmentally friendly behavior and the benefits of recycling.
In conclusion, the problem of the garbage is a serious one. I think that not only the municipality but also we as citizens can do a lot to help. We live on a beautiful island and we all have a responsibility to keep it clean.