Are our neighbours polluters? / by Kwinten Lambrecht

I live in the centre of Brussels, the centre of Europe, Belgium's capital. My area is 'developing'; the Region is soon building separate cycle lanes and a huge park at Porte de Ninove. At this stage we can only 'hope' that these infrastructure interventions will make this a better place. Because today my area is dirty: our garden is basically a dump, the 'petite ceinture' is a highway without speed limits (and not one single politician cares about that) and our street consists of so-called garbage hotspots.

Basically, for two years now most of the corners of my street, the Boulevard de l'Abattoir, are polluted with anything you can imagine; from toilets, to rotten food, dismantled furniture, carpets, etc.

I have tried to reach out via Twitter multiple times to non-visionary politicians like Fadila Laanan and Karine Lalieux but without real success I mean, if you are serious about using social media in political communication then stop the self-promotion of the great things you are doing in life. No, be accountable, provide 'your' citizens with answers, with solutions. Only Alderwomen Els Ampe and Ans Persoons are taking social media seriously to communicate with citizens here in Brussels.

Lalieux (Alderwoman for cleanliness since 2006!) once replied to me by applauding her own initiatives, without focusing on the real issue; the same places are used to dump trash each and every day. During a 'district meeting' she also ignored the question, so I decided not to go anymore. She may be too busy with her second job as MP in the Federal Parliament. Can you imagine being a full time MP and having to take care of the cleanliness of a city with +100k inhabitants? That's bonkers!

The question remains; where does all the trash come from? My street should be mentioned somewhere in the dark circuits as 'the place to be' to get rid of your trash because one, or even five families together, cannot produce the trash that we find in our street. The point is: if you know that these places are known to be hotspots, then why is no one acting? It makes it even more difficult to respect the area you live in when you see all the garbage around you. We are literally wasting the future of kids who, until now, only grew up with the idea of trashy streets and could never play in a park on the other side of the street because it's reserved for the nasty habits of some Bruxellois and, who knows, people from far outside!

This situation sketched above probably rings a bell to many Brusselers so let's try to be constructive. Below you will find 8 suggestions to overcome the trash troubles that Brussels is facing today. Please provide more ideas in the comments section!

  1. Repression: use cameras, just like in Molenbeek, to observe these places for a couple of days and fine the criminals.
  2. Use underground waste containers and let people use it for free all the time.
  3. Organise 'exchange markets' for inhabitants where the things you don't need are exchanged for things that your neighbours offer.
  4. Organise more than two 'big waste' free collection rounds per year. Do it every month and communicate about is wisely.
  5. People don't know when it's time to put the blue, white or yellow bags outside: inform people with dedicated calendars.
  6. Provide incentives for citizens: make them bring green waste from fruits and veggies to so-called district compost centres; once they have composted 20 kilos of waste they will receive a free bag of potting soil to cultivate plants and flowers on their terrace or garden.
  7. Organise guerilla actions to show that polluting your neighbourhood is a no-go, just like here in Portugal or in London .
  8. Provide more public space; the parking dump on Boulevard Poincarré/Abattoir needs to be transformed into a green haven, as soon as possible.