Thursday, October 9, 2008

Keeping It Clean

After all my grousing about Parisian tolerance for public filth, it's a nice change of pace to see the new public service campaign launched by the RATP, the authority in charge of Paris's buses and subway system. Actually, as far as subways go, I'd say it's not that bad. Certainly the stations are cleaner than those in Madrid, where piles of rejected newspapers were knee deep in some places during our visit last winter, and the grafitti is mild compared to that in New York. Still when you've got millions of people coming and going each day, and you give away free newspapers, and you let them eat, a certain amount of grubbiness is just inevitable.

The theme of the campaign is " La propreté, on a tous un rôle à jouer" which means everyone has a role to play in cleanliness. The end game is to get riders to take simple actions like using the trashcans, not leaving newspapers lying about, and speaking with an RATP agent if they see a problem. Well that makes perfect sense except for the fact that the station agents don't even blink when kids jump the turnstiles in front of them. Do we really expect that they'll do anything about litter? Go figure.

Still, I'm a glutton for billboards and there are some good ones associated with the campaign. What's more, there's a poetry component (how French is that?!) to convey the messages in a suitably humorous and sophisticated tone. And really what could be more compelling than telling the story from the perspective of an abandoned newspaper or a rejected piece of chewing gum?


Isabelle said...

You've probably already noticed that the French don't have a very strong civic sense, Anne!

Unfortunately, the different campaigns for cleanliness never work. They can be funny and clever, the result is still the same: nil.

The only way to have the French follow the rules is to hit their wallet! The best example is the speed limit on the roads. Since the government has multiplied the "radars" on the side of the roads, people are (more) respecting the speed limits!

So, unless there is an agent allowed to give fines for littering in every metro station, or at every street corner (which will NEVER happen), I'm afraid that you will have to keep on tolerating the filthy streets...

Starman said...

If they won't clean up their dog s--t, why would anyone expect them to pick up their trash. i have seen them toss their trash onto the sidewalk while standing next to a trash bin.

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