Trash as a social practice in Prishtina

trash cans come in every shape and size
plant pots
electric boxes
cardboard boxes
city trash cans
trash bags
trash collecting points

Walking down the streets of Prishtina one thing that sparked my interest is the creative ways of throwing trash. Be it putting the trash bag up high so streets dogs wouldn’t tear them open, piling trash on an already full trash can even though the next one is emptier or putting trash inside destroyed nonfunctional trash cans. With time I realized the knickknacks of these habits and while exploring the town it is quite clear where the focus on providing trash cans lies, in public spaces like the squares, boulevard or parks and sidewalks. Ordinary streets and main streets on the opposite are not as equipped with trash cans which generate creative solutions by citizens like using plant pots, electric boxes and cardboard boxes as trash cans. Social chain reactions so to say, seeing a spot of trash on the streets invites you to put your waste there as well creating these trash patches. And what makes a trash can really? The simple „holding“ structure and an accumulation of waste, I would say, when I compare the trashcan solutions. Still we gravitate towards these structures, even if they are not functional, because we learnt these small social behaviors like we learnt that you walk on the right side of a street.

Focusing on an ordinary and very much everyday subject as trash, shows how throwing out trash generates social practices that influence our perception of the city and its urban planning and vice versa. Waste management is taken on by the city with the work of waste pick up and disposing of it in landfills where trash usually ends up and lives on and on in those fields. Considering that in many households a clean home is valued highly and very much looked after, it contradicts itself with the way we look after our streets.

How come we feel less responsible for the city?

How come we need an authority to tell us how to manage our waste?

How come we take an individualistic approach to waste care instead of a collective one?

How come our approach to private space versus public space contradicts our care values?

How come that the Municipality of Prishtina fails to recycle?

How come we don’t get to meet our city care takers?

How come we continue to ignore?

How come?

By Adelina Ismaili

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