Litter is a huge issue everywhere in the world. Did you know, on average, nine BILLION tons of litter ends up in the ocean every year? No matter where you are in the world, this is an issue that hasn’t been resolved. It’s swept under the table and hid from us, and therefore, it’s out of sight and out of mind. A raw country doesn’t have this solution to their litter problem. They have to live with their littered country while everyone else is passing judgement and making assumptions.
As some of you following along on my journey may know, I was fortunate enough to spend an entire thirty-three days in the North African country of Algeria.
I was lucky enough to be graciously hosted by my best friend’s family while I explored outside of the western world for the first time in my life. I was exposed to cultural differences, language barriers stronger than I’d ever been forced to get over, and a country whose corrupted government is killing the spirits of so many amazing people.
Some Algerian History: A Raw Country
After Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, the country hit the ground running. With a strong infrastructure (good schools and roads, etc) and passionate leaders, the country was fully functioning and on the rise throughout the Sixties, Seventies, and even the Eighties.
It even made its mark on the global stage – specifically through the Treaty of Algiers (1981) which ended up resolving the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 and saved the lives of American citizens.
So why is the country deemed underdeveloped today?
Political disputes in the Nineties led to the beginning of a civil war that set the country back ten years in development. The impact of the Algerian War has held back the country’s growth for thirty years.
Fortunately, the Algerian government prevailed over radical terrorists trying to take over the country while it was at its weakest; however, the war still took a toll on everyone in Algeria.
While Algeria remains one of the most stable countries in Africa, its government remains corrupt under their current President Bouteflika. Politicians are using the country’s abundant natural resources for personal gain. However, putting another Civil War on the line terrifies the general public (mostly the older generation) and shies them away from another revolution.
I may be making assumptions, but Algerians seem exhausted of fighting for their rights. They have fought for their rights many times in the past for many years. I don’t blame them; after all, who wants to live a life full of wartime? There is fading optimism in some of the most genuine and caring people you will ever meet.
Making Assumptions & Passing Judgement
As I brought to light earlier, it’s no secret that litter is a serious problem in our world. Even in the most developed countries on Earth, the problem exists. However, the governments in these countries are capable of hiding it better in most cases.
Algeria’s government, although perhaps capable if proper funding was put to it, doesn’t seem interested in fixing the issue. There is garbage EVERYWHERE! Fortunately, being my first time seeing the issue before its hidden away, it opened my eyes to the seriousness of the problem.
I was so disturbed by my inability to help the problem that it turned me off of some of Algeria’s most beautiful places; such as its 1,000-mile long coastline of beaches. I felt useless as I stepped over plastic bottles by the hundreds in order to find a spot on the beach. I felt too ashamed – that I wasn’t contributing to a solution – to enjoy the beaches.
But the sad reality is, it’s an issue far too large for one person to solve with thirty-three days and a misunderstanding of the cause.
Admittedly, I jumped to a false conclusion and was passing judgement and making assumptions too quickly. I thought it was a cultural difference. I witnessed Algerian people blatantly littering in broad daylight like I’d never seen before. At the time, I thought it was just a mentality. Laziness, if you will. I even made a Facebook post while in Algeria full of assumptions and finger-pointing.
It wasn’t until a few people reached out to me about the problem – and taught me that not everyone is facing the same day-to-day prominent issues – that I was finally able to look at this issue with a bit less conclusion.
The Truth? Making assumptions about a raw country
The truth is we are far from a conclusion to litter. And Algeria is no different. In reality, I’m from a country that produces far more litter than Algeria does and I was ignorant to think otherwise.
This problem is much larger than Algeria.
Algeria is not the first country I’ve visited that has a major litter issue; it’s just the first one I’ve been able to see first-hand before it’s swept under the rug. And it’s that first time feeling that can make anyone feel hopeless.
I didn’t go to beaches as often as I had the opportunity to. Walking past all of the litter made me too sick with myself. I didn’t pick up a piece of litter every time I saw someone throw it on the street. And, still, I have yet to become involved in any efforts to eliminate this problem which makes me a part of the problem.
What does this mean for Algeria?
Algeria is a raw country. It was the rawest experience I had ever experienced dealing with the litter issue. It starts to mean something else to you as you’re literally stepping over plastic bottles that are a few feet away from the sea. You can see that your indecision to act will have a direct impact on our Earth. That brings with it a harsh guilt that I had difficulties overcoming with myself.
The truth is that Algeria is one of the most beautiful countries you could ever visit but still a long way from having a thriving tourism industry. The government hasn’t done their part for this to happen and is failing its citizens.
With that being said, there are individuals in Algeria who are doing a fantastic job in a push for more tourism to the country. In fact, it’s easy to imagine them succeeding in their push. However, when it comes down to it, the government will need to help out sooner or later.
Finding a solution to the litter problem
While in Algeria, I asked about clean-up programs in which I found a plethora of options exist. There are clean-up groups for their historic Casbah neighborhood and even beach clean-ups. The actions of these amazing people are exactly what Algeria needs right now. It’s uplifting to see some individuals trying to make changes for the better.
It takes more than one person to solve the issue of our littered Earth, but it takes the action of one to start the process.