Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 63 - Let's talk about culture...and Let's do it in Cyprus

We just cannot let it pass by without a remark of recognition for the work done on June 05, the big spring cleaning of Cyprus.  I printed out a list of all the communities, institutions, and municipalities, a list established by the organisers, a list with helpers and places to meet. It really worked as I could see from endless photos flooding in on facebook, there must have been a chronicler and photographer driving around the area, or the teams have been told before they started to present a proof of their activities. Thousands of rubbish bags have been collected and I wonder where they have been brought to.

On that day, on June 05,  I drove to Nicosia and saw the many black bags by the roadside and the very next day they were all gone. Very good.

However, how long will it last? I am positive though, that the idea has taken roots in the minds and hearts of the collectors, and they would not like to see their efforts done in vain, so they will watch out. But how about those who are used to throw their rubbish out of the car window, who are used to dump their waste in the mountains, in deserted nature areas, such as construction companies or just private persons who want to get rid of their old fridge or old sofa. Have they seen what half the population was doing, going out and collect the waste others have gotten rid of?

I am old enough to remember the times in my own country when we started to be conscious of the environmental sins we committed; it took a long time to sink into our consciousness, only when heavy fines had to be paid; that hurt and we obeyed.

It is not enough to do it once and the media should help to keep our consciousness awake, in newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting, showing the horrendous scenes around the world our neglecting behaviour has caused.

There are the various periods of our world, the stone age, bronze age…..and one day they will speak of the plastic age when mountains of plastic remains will be uncovered by archaeologists of the future, indestructible material and they will place it in museums? Or what will they do with it? There are some countries which have already begun to step away from plastic production, forbidding the use of plastic shopping bags because they have realised the damage plastic does to our world, just bring this one image in front of your mind: the immense island of rubbish in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We have all heard of the finely ground plastic that is swallowed by fish and birds that we – at the end of the food chain – will then consume.

The idea of refusing plastic bags in supermarkets when shopping, of taking your own shopping basket with you, has not taken root in our heads yet while on the Greek side of the island it is already general practice. I have spoken to some supermarket managers in the Northern part, have promised them that I would write an article about their new environmental philosophy, but what they answered was: ‘Our clients want them, the more the better, they use them for their house and bathroom waste and if we don’t hand them out, they will go to other shops where they get them for free…’ I observed the customers and it is a shame how thoughtless the bags are used, some customers leave the shop with about twenty plastic bags, each half empty.


The obvious consequence is to have the government make it a law, make it the rule to step back from such competitive thoughts and either sell the bags for some kurus or hand out paper bags. However we will continue to need waste bags and our industrial research institutions should make an effort to invent a environmental friendly material which decomposes easily and without any harmful residues.

For the last few years we have observed a change of social behaviour; young people are getting concerned about the course our life takes. Movements such as Slow Movements, Slow Cities, Slow Theatre – as we have in Lefke – are blooming, started in Italy and are spreading around the coasts of the Mediterranean: Back to the basics of life, away from being manipulated by electronics and media, starting to think by ourselves again. Going with Sartre’s philosophy: We are responsible for our own doings. We must protect our globe from being suffocated under mountains of rubbish.

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