Plastic plague 3. One-euro-job for ecology. Autumn 2015.

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Two years have passed since my last one-euro-job. During this time trash only kept on appearing in my neighbourhood. So I applied again for three months since October 2015 until the end of the year.

This time I was the only one. EU money was given for only one such position in a parish. It means that there was a lot of other “more important” things to do. So I spent one month gathering autumn leaves. Thanks to global warming snow did not come in November, as it usually has to be, and not even in December. So I still had two months to pick up plastic and other package.

This time I did not pick up trash in bigger dumps. I rather chose to pick up separate polypropylen (PP) and other plastic pieces laying here and there in the forest at the road. Bigger dumps I reported to local environment protection agency. As much as I know though, they will simply report it back to local municipality.

I did not pick up much, but I cleaned up a larger area. However, if one day I thought that I cleaned 3 km road from my house to parish centre, then already tomorrow I would spot new fresh trash or something that I couldn’t notice before.

Trash picking at the road has become more difficult since road service use new powerful machines to mow grass there. So they mulch not only the grass and brush, but also a trash. Sometimes I had to bow five times to pick up one PET bottle or what’s left of it. Glass bottles were much more pieces, as you can imagine yourself.

I still used bicycle to collect trash. In order to save time and strength I used my fathers car to bring trash to the place, where municipality would give it to a trash company.

I contacted local recycling company, which is actually Alba from Germany, and asked if dusty PET bottles can be recycled. My idea, that some superfactory does the washing process, got washed away, because they said no. Only clean PET bottles are good. At the moment I couldn’t organise the washing process for all the PET bottles that I found.

Some bottles were clean enough, to my opinion, so I managed to gather something to feed colourful containers of Alba. However local containers in the country were aleady full, so I went with my load to town, where my parents own a flat and therefore pay for their trash a regular monthly fee, even though they spent most of their time away. Alba containers of course can be used for free and by anyone.

Since many country people use this opportunity and sometimes they also drop something in non-recyclable containers, town of Alūksne has new trash rules, that a person is not allowed to bring trash by car. They also installed video surveilance to catch these folks. I consider myself as an inhabitant of my parents appartment in town, even though local legislation does not let me declare my habitat in more than one place. As an inhabitant I decided to provoke a conflict with services and went there. Since putting recyclable trash into Alba containers takes some time due to small holes, these guys had enough time to approach me and have a talk.

A persons mood after gathering the trash was not one of the most pleasant, so one guy turned around and went away. Another one, a former politician known only for his success in contract bridge card game, was less smart to have words with me, accused me of plastic and paper recycle containers being always full, took a picture of my car and went away to put it into local newspaper. This article states, that if an appartment inhabitant owns a country place, he must make another contract or buy a special pre-paid trash bag for trash originating from there. Alright, the cars don’t appear at the trash bins in town anymore. Now there are two options. Nr.1 – people bring more trash to the forest. Hopefully Nr.2 – people leave their car a bit away from trash bins and walk these hundred meters to throw out stuff.

As you see, people in towns and cities are becoming more insane. I think I need a break from this hobby. Local sawmill, which employed mostly alcoholics, had fire accident and went out of business, so I expect less trash in future. Even if more trash comes, I should rest a while, and deal with other ecology issues, i.e., producing organic food. These three months showed me that plastic problem needs another solution. I am almost 33 years old. An age with a great risk to be put on a cross by some atheists, but collecting trash is the least honorable way to the cross.

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About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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