OPINION

Learning to respect our environment

It was with some astonishment that I read the other day that the new European commissioner for the environment is Greek. I have been spending my holidays in Rafina for over 10 years and find it quite shocking how the Greeks treat their environment. We baptized the beach we go to «Marlboro beach» for the thousands of cigarette butts that are lying in the sand. (There are no tourists here.) On the most beautiful beaches in the islands where only few people go, the outstanding view is spoiled by plastic bags and beer and lemonade cans… Lots of car wrecks are to be found in front of houses; the other day I was passing by some vineyards where people had thrown bumpers of cars, sacks full of garbage and other unidentifiable items. In the last couple of years, apartment buildings have been sprouting out of the ground like mushrooms, but as there is no sewage plant, the used waters of the washing machines run down the pavement and nobody cares. The once excellent air changes brutally several times a day when the sewage truck is at work. Rafina is just an example among many other small cities which have known the same uncontrolled growth. Whoever has been to Scandinavia, Germany or Holland, for example, can witness the way the environment is respected there. You will not find a match or a plastic bottle on the beach,and there are strict laws concerning building policies. The Greeks are only concerned about cleanness at home but not about what is happening in front of their doorstep. Aren’t they aware of the unbelievable beauty of their country? When will they stop [using nature as] their garbage can? The teachers at elementary schools should take the children to the beaches and into nature in order to clean up the mess made by the adults and teach them the due respect for their environment. After all it will be today’s children who will suffer from the «I don’t care» attitude of their parents. Before the new commissioner starts to give lessons to the other member states, he should give the Greeks a long overdue wake-up call.