“We in Iceland are in many respects quite far behind our neighboring countries when it comes to environmental awareness,” said Valgerður Matthiasdóttir, a member of the Green April group, when the initiative was launched in 2011. “We are so used to being close to clean and wild nature and our water is so good. But we are very bad in all areas concerning waste and refuse which are a part of all modern societies.”
The National State Broadcasting Service RÚV reported earlier this year that the problem with trash was getting out of hand, and that people have been complaining about the lack of public rubbish bins in the city. But is there really a scarcity of bins?
Well, there are 1,069 bins in the city, according to Reykjavík City’s website. This means that there is in fact one bin to every 111 people in the capital. That’s almost five times as many as in Vancouver and loads more than in London, where bins have all but disappeared with IRA bomb scares in the ’90s.
So, if the lack of bins isn’t the problem, why is there trash all over the place? Reykjavík City employee Guðný A. Olgeirsdóttir told RÚV this April that while rubbish blows out of dumpsters, people are also simply littering on the streets and throwing trash out of car windows. It’s as if people don’t notice the mess, she said. Unfortunately, the rest of us do.
While some consider Reykjavík to be one of the greenest cities in the world, generating electricity and heating houses with geothermal energy, it appears that locals have forgotten how to use the dustbin.