“Mr. $” shared his observations from back in his native Mumbai. Floods aren’t the real threat, he told me, but the garbage clogging drains.
In fairness, we can’t blame the garbage. The real menace is the person who casts it into the street, sending it in search of a drain to plug. I tell him that litter and garbage have been pegged as the cause of rapid increases in dengue fever in India.
We share words about culture and its hand in shaping disrespectful waste-handling. Not the average topic you raise with your investment adviser. He calls in his manager. I guess it’s not run-of-the-mill for a client to arrive saying something completely different. We shake hands and she introduces herself as the branch manager. She points to the bus stop outside the window to my left where a human herd has been standing in wait for the full length of my 45-minute appointment. A city all-purpose bin is steps away from the transit shelter in and around which the passengers congregate.
Bank parking lots are notorious locales for workers on break and lunch eating and sipping in their cars before or after doing their transactions inside the bank. Smokers love to finish a smoke before entering a bank. They will flick it somewhere near the entrance.
I follow the direction of the manager’s outstretched finger as she unloads her beef about the state of chronic litter at the identified transit location. “It’s disgusting,” she says. “Yes,” I empathize. “That is known as a ‘transition point’ in the litter prevention profession, a place where litter is likely to accumulate.” But what I’m really thinking is this:
“Listen, lady. Banks are some of the worst offenders when it comes to litter. You don’t have bins on your premises and you don’t have obvious recycling containers at your ATMs and in the branches. Most bank properties are a mess and aren’t maintained regularly enough. What are you prepared to do about it?”
Every sign on the wall has something to do with financial services. Okay, that stands to reason, it’s a bank. But not one sign about recycling ATM receipts or keeping the area clean or using bins that should be provided.
Banks have a stake in keeping their vicinity free of litter. Judging from the most recent quarterly bank profits, financial institutions can well afford to be partners in litter education practices and programs. Certainly they can do more than just point fingers.