The Streets Are Our Home

What do we do with the plastic wrapper cozily used to cover our chewing gum or candy until we are ready to masticate or suckle on it?

I know that is quite an odd start to the week. I was amused by the beginning but obviously you know what I am attempting to tackle. If not, I hope to clarify as we go along. A decade ago, the garbage mounds that adorned the outskirts of Addis Abeba were still quite huge but lately they are closer to our comfort for many. Given the fact that appropriate measures are undertaken to get rid of the smell, the efforts made to recycle are at a relatively small scale. I hope to see a certain result soon.

Which is what somehow got me questioning a few of our daily decisions that through time end up creating these insupportable amounts of garbage. That is clearly an outcome we can qualify as being a poor decision we often make on our part, in terms of producing garbage. This leads to an amount of garbage that is harmful to our lives and the environment. Imagine all the garbage accumulated by the millions!

It is true that we recycle at least by re-using some items like plastic bags until they are no longer useful. We seem only careful for items that come in handy.

With a closer look, it seems as though we are in fact more careful in what we dispose of unless we find a secondary use for them other than what they were manufactured for.


Sure. Imagine if we went back to that plastic wrapper that covers our favorite sticks of gum.

Where does that wrapper end up once it is no longer the container or rather the home of that sweet breath freshener or bubble maker that we joyful chew?

Of course, that bubblegum wrapper is an example of many of the other items that we are somewhat obligated to dispose of such as napkin bags, napkins, water bottles, ‘Siss Festal’ (plastic bags). For years now, we have seen various initiatives brought forth by non-government-organizations (NGO’s) public figures and government initiatives attempt to clean up our streets. But in time, we are seeing the city go back to what it was before.

It is as though we enjoy our dirty streets that is booming in the horn of Africa – or is it?

I am certain that we would like to walk on a clean pavement, free of used napkin or gum wrappers, without mentioning the small alleys and streets filled with fresh air. We should all enjoy a fresh smell with no garbage. Which got me wondering what it was that would make anyone throw anything into the open, especially when some of the areas have garbage bins. We sometimes observe garbage placed next to a garbage bin but it is concerning when someone throws garbage everywhere when there is an option to place it where it belongs – in garbage bins.

Does that make you wonder if anyone would do the same in their own homes?

It should not be hard for anyone to understand that the streets are an extension of what we call home. In other words, the streets are our home if we were to think of our country as our homes, then I wonder why we are not all taking care of our homes. I am well aware that there needs to be street cleaners but we should all have a stake in the cleanliness of our streets.

Is putting someone on the spot for throwing garbage on our streets a bad thing?

It is a potential good public service to remind someone not to throw garbage, even if it misses its target and is affecting all of us. I wonder when we will eventually live in a cleaner and healthier city, where our streets are livable and are known for their cleanness. Imagine millions of people ensuring that the streets they walked were clean, the way we try to keep our homes clean. That would make our homes and our streets easy to embrace.

So, what do we do with the plastic wrapper cozily taking care of our chewing-gum or candy until we are ready to masticate or suckle on it?

We seem oblivious to the idea that the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.


By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled

Published on Dec 06,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 866]



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