Sunday, March 22, 2009

Trash Talk

Yet another social marketing campaign was launched this month by the city of Paris in what seems like yet another valiant-but-likely-to-be-ineffective effort to get Parisians to literally clean up their act. The campaign seeks to instill in the city's residents the notion that clean streets are a collective responsibility and that littering hurts the environment.

It's a nice message but I have my doubts. After the RATP's recent campaign in a similar vein, not much seems to have changed. In fact, when I got on the métro the other evening around 9:30, the car was strewn with newspapers, cookie boxes, and all manner of detritus of the urban environment, including a discarded sweatshirt. And then there were the two fellows I followed out of the grocery store earlier this week. They had just bought a box of ice cream cones and by the time I got out to the sidewalk, they'd left a trail of paper behind them like Hansel and Gretel. (I told my French teacher this and she said, "didn't you say something?" I was thinking, "are you kidding?!")

To be fair, the city's new campaign is explicit about the steep fines for littering or failure to pick up after a dog: 183 euros. And yet, I've neither seen nor heard of anyone getting such a fine. So thanks a lot to the boys down at the Hôtel de Ville. I'll keep my fingers crossed but I'm certainly not holding my breath.


expat on the go said...

Being the outspoken French-Canadian that I am, I always tell people that litter, "la terre n'est pas une poubelle" (the earth is not a garbage can). They always look at me as if they don't understand and then I repeat VERY slowly for them.
I've gotten growls (yes, growls), disgusted faces (yes, directed at ME!), etc...
I just don't accept that - I know, "when in Rome...", but still, there's a limit! This city is dirtier than New York - and that's saying much (at least in New York you don't have to walk in zig zag formation to avoid the dog cacas)!
Ahhhh the joys!!! ;)

Starman said...

But you're all missing the REAL problem here: THE French FEAR of change.

Rick D said...

I kept my eyes glued to the pavement in Paris, but didn't see much more than here in Washington. However, it absolutely made my day to see doggie droppings in French as "les dejections canines" -- dejected indeed!!

Gabrielle - Francofile said...

This is a hilarious post. I'm glad you put it out there. Love your blog

abby jenkins said...

I did not know there were palm trees on Paris beaches! Strange campaign but some funny merde, merci.

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