The sad thing is that’s it isn’t just during special occasions such as Valborg in a student town that this happens: A walk through many of Stockholm’s big parks in June and July will give the same picture. The idea Swedes have of ourselves caring about nature and the commons simply doesn’t seem to be enough when summer comes, night falls and people get a few drinks.
During my lifetime there have been several campaigns to make people realise the importance of not leaving rubbish outside. I still remember how the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation arranged national litter-picking days when I was a kid, and last year the city of Stockholm tried another approach with their “Hey, you dropped something” posters.
But now it’s time for stronger measures. Public littering has been illegal before, but from July 1 this year, Swedish police will have the right to give an immediate fine to those who leave their rubbish around, like if someone ignores to collect their disposable grills after a picnic in the park.
It’s not entirely clear where the line will be drawn for what’s to be considered as littering. (Cigarette ends? Chewing gums on the pavement? Spitting?) But many mean that what’s most important is to create a change of attitudes.
“This is so typical for the spoilt city people, who think it’s ok to litter if there isn’t a litterbin within sight. In the countryside we manage not to leave our rubbish everywhere, even without having litterbins. It’s all about the upbringing!” writes one newspaper reader as comment to the news on the webpage of Dagens Nyheter.