This is my second story for The Siberian Times, and again it is about garbage cleaning.
It is quite mind-boggling what people leave behind after the end of a holiday at this pristine, world famous lake - from fridges to huge shoe collections, to toilet bowls and mattress frames. Picture: Sergey Filinin.
It sounds like a weird hobby doesn't it? Perhaps I should make it my job, start travelling the world, compare the places with the biggest amounts of rubbish, and stage competitions for the most unusual trash ever thrown - and found. What do you think? Not the best way to spend my future, I reckon.
Look at the EN+ '360 minutes for Baikal' major clean up which they have organised for the third year now - I feel that the amounts of rubbish taken off the shores of this wonderful lake just doesn't get smaller. Although... when EN+ teams came to Baikal for the first time in 2011 they had a heap of garbage so huge that it was visible from space. They took around 500 bags - each with a 130 litre capacity - from Ulirba Cape. There were only a hundred of people working on it.
Last year they had 400 volunteers, with school children and students joining in; together they managed to clean up 22 spots around Baikal, picking up three times more rubbish than in 2011. This year I was among a small army of one thousand people that landed on the shores of Russia's biggest lake, the deepest and most unique in the world.
'At some point we even had to shut the online registration on '360 minutes for Baikal' website. So many people wanted to come and take part that we were not sure we would provide them with all the necessities. We were also surprised by the wide geography of our volunteers, for example, some of them wished to come from cities thousands of miles away from Baikal, like Bryansk and Voronezh in central Russia,' said Yelena Rollins, EN+ public relations director.
There were also a couple of teams villages around Baikal who came and asked to take part in the major clean up operation, which was great. They were sent uniforms and inventory.
I earlier suggested the introduction of big fines, like 50,000 to 100,000 roubles ($1580 to $3150) for people who don't have a care in the world at what they leave behind. But there is no guarantee these people would pay up. Pictures: Sergey Filinin.
It is quite mind-boggling what people leave behind after the end of a holiday at this pristine, world famous lake. From fridges to huge shoe collections, to toilet bowls and mattress frames. Yet I also went to the same spot where I cleaned last year, and I am glad to say that there was significantly less rubbish.
Yelena Rollins told me that her dream would be once to say to volunteers: 'I am happy to start our last ecological event' because the lakeside is perfectly clean. But when this might happen, she cannot say.
Perhaps I should check Wiki for the total area of Lake Baikal's shore, calculate the number of hours and manpower needed to clear it all up, divide it by the 360 minutes we spend each year on our clean-up... but something tells me that even a daily six hour operation would not be enough to make the territory around Baikal completely free of this pollution.
I earlier suggested the introduction of big fines, like 50,000 to 100,000 roubles ($1580 to $3150) for people who don't have a care in the world at what they leave behind. But there is no guarantee these people would pay up.
We need to introduce some basic yet effective measures that would make people stop and think before they start littering.
My idea is that some light corporal punishment would do the job: if you threw a bottle in the bushes instead of the rubbish bin, here you go, get a lash of the cane on your behind. If you threw a full rubbish bag out, then it should be five lashes.
It should not even be to hurt, but to humiliate, like how can I, a grown up person, be treated like this? But if only you saw what these grown up people leave behind them.
I am sure this measure will be effective. A colleague of mine, Evgeniy, said that 'if such system was created, he would leave his current job and became one of the 'punishment team'. Now if you were to see Evgeniy, 182 cm tall and 120 kg, a candidate for master of sport in rugby and sambo, you would understand the power behind his words.
And now see a bit of magnificent lake Baikal... clean as it should be. All pictures courtesy of Sergey Filinin.
Natalya Kobets, 34, is a Novosibirsk-born journalist, currently residing in Krasnoyarsk. She works for 'Sphere of Influence' business magazine
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