The most disturbing part of our time in Morocco has been seeing the proliferation of trash littered everywhere. In city streets, country roads and even in the remotest parts of the Sahara. I keep wondering whether any groups organize “clean up days” the way we do at local beaches and such. If so, they may get added to my favorite charity list.

As we sat on the train racing from Marrakech to Casablanca, I pulled open my curtain to look out on open fields. As my eyes adjusted to the sunlight, I was saddened as I realize the landscape is dotted with plastic bags.

When we were in the Sahara, we stopped in a small palm grove for a picnic. We were disappointed that within a campfire site people had left their trash. Cans, bottles, etc. Even as we visited Erg Chegga, one of the remotest dunes in Morocco, our guide found (and thankfully picked up) a plastic bag.

In the states, particularly in California, we teach our kids the “leave no trace” ethic when in the wilderness — what we carry in, we carry out. We’re pretty obsessive about recycling (I have not seen a single recycling bin in Morocco). And more and more, we’ve stopped buying water in plastic bottles — drinking from the tap and even making our own sparkling water. That, of course, has not been possible in Morocco, but even in Europe it was hard to get plain old tap water in a restaurant (only one restaurant in France offered it).

Not sure whether it’s a sense of guilt over my own contribution to the problem, or worry about the impact of all plastic that I’m seeing everywhere, but it’s weighing on me. As we were packing up our tent and getting ready to leave the desert, I picked up two empty water bottles. I looked at Jeff and asked what we should do with them. He voiced what I had been feeling: “I’d like to take them all the way back home to make sure their recycled.”

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3 comments

  1. We can all do something about this issue – starting in our households – Eg. I don!t through empty mineral water bottles but use them to store filtered water in them and then bring it along to buy my milk in the local market. Also I use the plastic bags given in shops for my bin – I never buy bin bags 🙂
    SThese are simple things but on the whole can make a huge difference!

  2. Wow–great writing for the whole blog (but then what would I expect). I had the same reaction on my honeymoon on a day at the Dead Sea. Jordan was littered in trash, and I think much of the western world was the same not so long ago….

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