Opinion: People who throw garbage on the street should get fined, but more needs to be done

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Sep 5th, 2022
Trash Problem in El SalvadorRemoving garbage from river. Image by @MedioAmbienteSV

The trash issue in El Salvador has been around for years and continues to expand. This problem becomes more visible during the rainy season, especially in urban areas; it blocks drainages that usually result in floodings, among other things.

On August 30th, deputy Rodrigo Ayala introduced a bill to the Legislative Assembly for its consideration to reform the Salvadoran Penal Code. The proposed law would fine people who throw garbage in the streets with monetary fines or community work. The bill was supported by other deputies of the New Ideas political party.

Initiative presented. The project seeks to sanction with a fine or public utility work the improper disposal of garbage in public places (streets, parks, beaches, etc.) The initiative will be studied by the respective commission. Thanks to the deputies who joined.” Deputy Rodrigo Ayala.

Once the appropriate commission studies the law initiative, it should get approved with barely any opposition. The New Ideas political party has absolute control of the Salvadoran legislature.

The initiative presented by Deputy Ayala is a good one and can help to solve this issue. However, sanctioning people alone is not enough. As a society, we need to do more to help solve this issue. We need to start working on this problem at home; furthermore, the government needs to get involved more in prevention.

Solving this issue begins at home.

To stop the damage that trash on the streets is causing our country, we need to begin with changes at home, from the older to the younger generations.

The older generation needs to set an example for the younger ones, especially when small children are involved. If we are okay with throwing trash on the streets without disregard for the damage it causes, we need to stop doing it. Kids will pick up habits that adults habitually do, just like we learned from our parents.

Children need to be aware of the damage throwing trash on the streets does to the environment. They need to see the results of this nasty habit; for example, the recent flooding caused by heavy rain and the trash accumulated in our rivers and lakes.

River Pollution El Salvador
Cerron Grande reservoir. Image by @CEL_ElSalvador

El Salvador has amazing customs and traditions that we all proudly celebrate. Nevertheless, we have some bad habits that need to change; throwing trash on the streets and caring about the environment are some of them.

In El Salvador, one of the main reasons for flooding is the accumulation of debris in the streets. Our commitment to improving the planet’s health must be in force every day. Let’s have acceptable environmental practices; let’s deposit the garbage in its place.” El Salvador’s Ministry of Environment.

The government needs to get involved more in prevention.

Creating a law that fines those who throw trash on the street is a good initial step in solving this issue. However, the Salvadoran government also needs to be more proactive in prevention.

The government should create educational programs in all public schools that loudly exhibit the topic of not throwing trash on the streets. Also, local governments should do the same in communities across their territory.

A large amount of monetary and human resources are being used to clean water resources and remove garbage from the streets. This expenditure will increase further if we don’t stop throwing trash on the streets.

It is the responsibility of all Salvadorans.

If this were a perfect world, we would all get involved in solving this issue; but since it is not, we all need to step up and do more. This Salvadoran trash problem affects us all.

We need to stop saying, “well, this is the way it is in El Salvador,” we need to do our part and help others find a way to care about this tremendous problem.

El Salvador is a small country with fantastic natural beauty, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, mountains, and much more. If we don’t step up and start dealing with this trash issue, these natural resources could fade, resulting in more environmental problems.