Bulgarian Litterbugs

Rubbish in Bulgaria is all around us and this is a strong and quite off putting first impression many visitors get. This has been put down to a hangover form the communist era where you could be arrested and impounded from dropping litter in the street - what a good idea!

Since the demise of communism part of the freedom included the right to litter the streets without any recrimination and because they now have this right they exercise it to the full. This is more of a retaliation to the previous incarcerated system that went before and a habit now that has been embedded in countless Bulgarians who could be described as litterbugs.

The trouble is that the habits of the parents get passed over to the next generation and right now what I see is a confusion in littering habits. Schools teach ideals of caring for the community you live in but a different signal is coming from the home from their parents. It remains that the reason for towns and cities being 'clean' is mainly due to the street cleaners.

If you rise early before the streets have been given a going over you will see litter scattered everywhere but from dogs, cats and whatever else is around that have been into the big bins and leaving a mayhem of litter on the road and pavements. Included in the scavenging the previous evening are the Roma who sieve through the wastage for cardboard, plastic and metal for patching up their homes, selling on or fuel material for cooking and/or heating.

Even watching Roma children regularly searching through bins in town fast food joints, picking out left over food and walking off whilst eating what they found is common here. Quite a shock at first sight but all part of the how this Bulgaria runs on a day to day basis. This is quite a contrast or even a condradiction to the Roma who litter more than Bulgarian. You can almost certainly recognize most Roma homes by the litter that surround it, this is just how they are over here in Bulgaria with garden as rubbish dumps.

Things will change gradually with the introduction of on the spot fines that will come about in uniform with the EU, in fact back to communist policy.

It must be said that for may visitors to Bulgaria the litter spread around the country is quite an off putting factor and even now an annoying 'tut tut' is made when seeing Bulgarian folk thrown litter down without a thought. Perhaps one area of Bulgaria that doesn't appeal.

How can a population brought up on conservation and green living do these things? As mentioned earlier it may be that it is an abuse of the freedom they have been giving to do it...