By Paula Manoli-Gray
A couple of weekends ago, a big party was organised on Phinikoudes beach. The organisers secured the permits from the municipality and held the event until the early hours of the morning, with a DJ and lots of drinking and dancing.
The next morning, photos appeared on social media, showing the beach covered in litter.
There was quickly an outpouring of public outrage regarding the way the organisers had left the beach, with many jumping in to insult them and demand that they clear up. Others said that such events should not take place at all on the beach in the first place.
Some blamed the municipality and said they had failed the town with such images.
During the course of the day, further information appeared. The organisers gave their side of the story. They claimed that they had paid a fee to the municipality to undertake all the cleaning, and therefore had fulfilled their obligations and had not been aware that the cleaning had not taken place.
The municipality then issued its own press release stating that this was not the case, and that the fees paid did not cover the cleaning of the sand, and that the state of the beach was the responsibility of the event organisers.
Of course, lots of people on social media were happy to give their two-pence-worth, but I believe that we are really missing the point here.
Why is the state of the beach not the responsibility of the people who actually attended the event and threw the rubbish in the first place?
Why do we believe that the revellers have the right to litter, and then expect and demand from either the organisers or the municipality to swoop in and clear up after their mess?
For me, this is very simple; there should not be such a horrific mess for anyone to deal with in the first place – partygoers should not think it is okay to throw their rubbish on the sand ‘because someone will clear it up later’.
- Sun, sand and…smokers?
- Build a Cyprus army through incentive
- The ugly side of Larnaca’s clean facade
And this is where we are going terribly wrong. In other countries (from what I know), people are made aware that they should not litter, and that, if they do, there are consequences.
In Cyprus, there seems to be a mentality that keeping streets clean falls on the authorities, and if the streets, beaches and countryside are not kept clean, then the authorities are attacked for their failure to do their job properly.
The party on the beach was a typical example of this mentality, as is the amount of cigarette ends in the sands, and the rubbish in the seas, and the dog poo on the pavements and the mini rubbish dumps people create in their neighbourhoods.
I even had a friend whose husband would throw their baby’s dirty nappies out of their flat block window and laugh. He claimed that ‘someone else’ would throw them away.
I personally believe a large part of this mentality stems from the modern culture of having a live-in housemaid who picks up after the family non-stop. This can instill a belief in children growing up that someone will always be there to clean up after their mess.
Don’t believe me? Just ask any teacher on the island if they can tell which children are being raised in this way…