This topic came up on another thread and a few people expressed interest, so I thought I’d start a thread on its own. Anyway, here’s my thoughts…
1.) No facilities: Many places have no garbage facilities at all - not a dumpster to be seen - so the street becomes the garbage can.
2.) The facilities are poor: Even in places with garbage facilities they are woefully inadequate, thus the few dumpsters that do exist are allowed to overflow for days.
3.) It’s not my job: Cuba has an unseen army of retirees and otherwise unemployable people who descend on the streets at night to sweep and clean them. (These street cleaners work all day in the tourist zones.) All the garbage that’s thrown out of houses is magically taken away. The place looks good in the daylight. The “not my job” syndrome is rampant in Cuba - it’s the way things work there. You have an empty cigarette carton or food wrapper in your hand, where else would you dump it except right where you’re standing? After all, someone else will clean it up. Simple.
4.) Being poor: This is a much more a personal observation/thought, but I think a lot of litter originates simply because the person throwing it away is poor. In a society where you have nothing and must fight for every scrap you can get your hands on it makes a nice psychological kick to have the luxury of throwing something away. It gives you power. It shows you don’t have to hold onto every little thing. Throwing something away demonstrates you still maintain some personal authority and control over your life.
Anyway, that’s a few reasons why the whole Island is generally treated as an open garbage can by the locals, but still looks pretty good to our foreign eyes.