Around ten years ago, in the city where I grew up, the government one day decided to fine people RMB200 for walking around topless. Of course, we are generally talking about those men who, in the summer, walk by without wearing any shirts because of high temperatures.
I remember the day when all those old hags sitting around in front of yards talking loudly, started preaching, one by one, “it’s 200 per person.”
Then, the city’s topless men mystically disappeared over the night, and never returned to town ever since. Obviously, they are still around, but it became rare to see them in the streets.
This story first came to mind when I saw a picture of the Inner Harbor’s state when the typhoon was still wrecking havoc over all objects and creatures in Macau. In the picture, an old styled building, surrounded by yellow waters, could be seen with trash floating around it, while human beings were strained inside.
At that moment, I thought that if people ever have to suffer, at least they should never have to suffer such insult.
You ask, why does the picture reminded me of the first story I mentioned? Because I wonder if there is a way Macau can become so efficient, so clean, that nobody would ever have to worry about trash floating around when typhoons strike the city every summer.
Can Macau’s trash disappear like the topless men, and never come back?
I cannot think of solutions to accomplish said goal when it comes to adults because, after having attended so many government events, I kept hearing Macau leaders saying “it is unfeasible, it will cause this or that kind of problem.”
However, there is one thing I can suggest Macau to do, which is to start encouraging young people to recycle in schools.
Forget about those theoretical classes where teachers lecture students on how to be environmentally-friendly. Practice is what really matters.
I’m not denying the positive effects that oral education can bring to students. I’m merely stressing that verbal education cannot be the priority. It has to be action-driven education.
Start by placing recycling bins in schools to allow children to recycle at school; in primary and middle ones, and universities.
If, day by day, students practice recycling, then, ideally, when they grow up, at least the new population will have the sense of recycling, and will have the habit to do so too. Not only that, but they will become a source of influence for their parents to recycle.
Rather than educating the main labor force about recycling, why not first clear all the potential waste that might be produced by kids now? Hence, make sure that at least there will be no concerns with the next generation.
On the other hand, if the city’s leaders can figure out ways to make sure adults recycle, the problem will be way easier to solve.
Personally, I lack the wisdom to find a way to lead adults to recycle.
Last reminder: Macau faces a typhoon season every single year; do we really want to see plastic bags, egg shells, and other things flying all over the place? If not, what should we do now?