Notes from Serbia: Ending Litter through Laws and Education

Sunrise over

Sunrise over Uvac River, Serbia. Photo: Courtesy Snezana Pavlovic

Blue Planet Green Living invites our readers around the world to send us reports about the environment in their home countries. In the first of the “Notes from ….” series, we published a post from Jagdish Poudel, an environmental science student from Nepal. Today, we are pleased to share a report from Snezana Pavlovic, a 25-year-old student of Balkan languages from Niš, Serbia. “Avoiding pollution and ecology are my passion and hobby,” Snezana writes.

In her post today, Snezana introduces us to a beautiful nation that is plagued with plastic litter. She tells us how her government is taking steps to not only deal with this problem, but also to teach children how to protect the environment. We invite you to read Snezana’s post about her nation and to be challenged by the Ten Ecological Laws she presents to us from Serbia. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


“We can impose punishments against those who pollute, and we can establish European ecological laws, but we won’t achieve anything if we don’t set forward the conscience of the nation about how important it is to protect our environment,” says Miladin Avramov, secretary in Serbia’s Ministry for Environment and Location planning.

Litter along a Serbian highway.

Plastic bags and other litter on a Serbian highway. Photo: Courtesy Snezana Pavlovic

Protection of the environment could become an optional subject in Serbian elementary schools. An initiative to include ecology in schools was established by the Ministry of Environment, in order to develop young people’s conscience about the environment. The Serbian Ministry of Education is supporting this idea, and just started working on the concept. They are currently considering whether children will learn “protection of the environment” in low or in high grades and for how many hours during the week.

“The youngest are our main focus, because they study very fast, and they are able to transmit their knowledge to their friends and parents,” says Director of the Institute for Protection of Nature in Serbia, Lidia Amidzic, Ph.D.

“It is amazing how many kids want to know everything about plants, how they grow and how to take care of them. Also, they are very interested in animals too,” emphasizes Amidzic. “Kids have humane feelings toward nature, and that’s why they can transmit this positive habit to adults, who unfortunately, often have inappropriate and environmentally destructive habits that are very difficult to change.”

Litter in Veranje

Litter mars the landscape in Veranje. Photo: Courtesy Snezana Pavlovic

A Problem with Plastic

Vranje is the first town in Serbia to forbid the use of plastic bags, and that restriction will start in 2010. This decision was made by the government of Vranje because of the very bad influence of plastic on the environment.

Six years ago, Vranje also was the first town in Serbia to set up a waste disposal site, yet they now have a problem with plastic garbage.

“When the site was developed, it was expected to last for 22 years, but because of the accumulation of plastic articles, the expiration date of the site will be shortened,” says Nela Cvetkovic from the government of Vranje.

A single grocery store in Veranje distributes 600 plastic bags a day.

A single grocery store in Veranje distributes 600 plastic bags a day. Photo: Courtesy Snezana Pavlovic

The accumulation of plastic in the landfill was one of the reasons the city decided to restrict plastic bags, just as the European Union does. “We have one year to do that, and we will use that period to educate our nation about the bad influence of plastic bags, and also to warn manufacturers to focus on other products,” says Cvetkovic.

To produce 1kg of polyethylene from which plastic bags are made, 2 kg of carbon dioxide are dumped into the atmosphere. A single market in Vranje distributes 600 plastic bags every day.

To solve the problem of plastic garbage, most of the countries of the European Union introduced taxes on plastic bags that fall on sellers’ backs. In this way, Ireland’s consumption of plastic bags has been reduced by 95%. This is the goal we hope to achieve in Serbia.

Ten Ecological Laws

Following are 10 ecological laws that we try to respect in my country:

Vranje

Vranje, Serbia. Photo: Courtesy Snezana Pavlovic

  1. Don’t expect from nature more than you gave her.
  2. Protect this planet, because we don’t have another, and we won’t get a new one.
  3. Take care of the air before you take time to admire the sky.
  4. You must know that the planet and nature will be good only if you are smart.
  5. Remember that the life of a tree is assurance for the tree of life.
  6. Don’t let the birds give up from their return home from the South.
  7. Count the price of preserving nature in the price of every product.
  8. Don’t look for a hole in the law of nature.
  9. Think more about waste so we don’t end up in it!
  10. When you build, don’t steal from nature – share with it.

Take care of the environment, and we will avoid the end of mankind.

Snezana Pavlovic, Student
Univerzitet u Nišu
Filozofski fakultet
Niš, Serbia

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Comments

One Response to “Notes from Serbia: Ending Litter through Laws and Education”

  1. Anne Russell on January 16th, 2009 7:13 pm

    Snezana,

    Thank you for a very smart and heartfelt article. Your list of 10 ecological laws was amazingly beautiful and honest.
    This world is blessed to have a young person such as yourself working to make it better. Don’t give up, and don’t silence your voice.

    ks.