Photo by tracy the astonishing (Flickr CC)
First warm weekend of the year and every patch of greenery in Berlin, from Volkspark Friedrichshain to Tiergarten, Mauerpark to Görlitzer, is transformed into a garbage dump.
An Easter morning walk through the Volkspark reminded me a little of my visits to India where rubbish is just part of every cityscape. Okay, unlike India, no one was burning trash. And I didn't spot any lepers sleeping rough. But I did wade through paprika-chip bags, empty bratwurst packaging, plastic cups, shopping bags fluttering happily in the breeze and liquor and wine bottles next to an illegal fire pit. So many smashed Sterni bottles you'd think the Antifa had been up all night rehearsing for May 1. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention all the little stashes of human excrement behind every bush, covered in huge piles of scrunched up toilet paper.
In Tiergarten the situation is possibly even worse. Every weekend six tons of trash is left in that park alone. There's talk of banning grilling from the area in front of the president's palace at Bellevue which is especially popular with Turkish families in the warm months.
When I first came to Berlin, I shrugged indifferently at the trash: Berlin is big, dirty and edgy, I thought. Plus, isn't it great that people see the by-products of our sick, turbo-charged consumer society out in the open! Maybe they'll become more aware of their planet-trashing lifestyles.
How wrong I was.
Now my inner Ordnung-freak is getting the better of me. Lock 'em up, all those litterbugs! Or send 'em to the army, where they'll learn some respect for themselves and their surroundings. Yeah – I know, I know – I'm a fascist bastard...
Funny, how the citizens of a country with such a reputation for order and environmental awareness can have such disregard for public green space. Of course the park-polluters might not consider themselves part of the German mainstream and they're being a little rebellious. More likely is that they just don't give a shit. Not a novel attitude in Berlin.
So what should be done?