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French customs authorities say they caught one-hundred forty Swiss "rubbish tourists" bringing their rubbish clearance over the border and planning to fly-tip the rubbish in France. There are likely many more that have gotten away with it too which is why the number of rubbish tourists seems to be growing. This is in spite of the fact that there's a €150 (175 francs) fine if a Swiss rubbish tourist gets caught doing so in France.


Would be rubbish tourists probably make a calculated decision to dump their rubbish clearance in France. The odds of getting caught are low, and if they succeed, the money they'll save will more than pay for the petrol and the time. Plus, they can combine their rubbish tourism trip with some fun activities in Franche-Comté, an area known for its beautiful historic buildings, cheaper stores, and fitness and health spas. What makes this crude act even more attractive is that rubbish clearance in Switzerland is very costly.

Rubbish tourism isn't just happening in the Franche-Comté region of France either. It seems that many vacationers don't feel the same sense of responsibility they would at home. Thus, they fly tip and litter their rubbish clearance at much higher rates than when they are at home in their own communities. What should we do about it? Several cities around the world are actually spending substantial time, money, and other resources to develop plans to deal with the rubbish clearance left behind by those on holiday.

On the one hand, international tourism is very profitable. The World Tourism Organisation estimates that international tourism generated about £950 billion in 2014 and it's likely gone up since then. On the other hand, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that fourteen percent of all solid waste is produced by tourists! People even drop their rubbish clearance at world treasures like UNESCO World Heritage sites or the tops of mountains. The authors of "Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints: The environmental impacts of wildlife tourism" point out that even ecotourists are prone to leaving their waste removal in sensitive wildlife areas.

Changing the messaging in places where rubbish tourism is growing may make a difference. Signs could be erected that remind tourists that just because they are on holiday, perhaps they shouldn't behave like pigs! Those of us who believe it is utterly shameful to leave your rubbish clearance on foreign soil wouldn't have any qualms about shaming these rubbish tourists. May we suggest signs like:

"Would you litter so much if you were in your own city?"

"Didn't your mother teach you any manners. Don't fly tip your rubbish clearance here!"

"There are hidden cameras watching you. Are you sure you want your face on our shame board for littering?"

While there are those of us participating in litter picks several times a year, there seems to be a growing rubbish clearance crisis outpacing these efforts. Perhaps the fines on international tourists should be much higher so people would think twice about bringing their rubbish clearance to other countries to fly tip! Perhaps too if they get caught, they should be barred from re-entering the country for a certain amount of time?

Clearable, an on-demand
rubbish clearance company serving England, Scotland, and Wales, recycles or reuses more than ninety percent of all the rubbish clearance they collect. However, Clearabee can't afford to retrieve the fly-tipped rubbish clearance unless someone else pays them to do it. Therefore, cleaning up the fly-tipped waste removal from rubbish tourists falls on the inefficient local governments for the most part. When this happens, most of that extra rubbish clearance from international tourists ends up in a foreign landfill.

"Rubbish Tourism" is perhaps too kind a term. It sounds like a euphemism for a very serious problem. Vocabulary is very important when social change is needed. If anyone can think of a better term for this despicable activity, one that might help change the tide, please tweet it to the Clearabee Twitter account.