Amman used to take pride in the cleanliness of its streets and public spaces. Lately, however, the capital, and beyond, has been lacking in this aspect.

Parks, empty plots of land and roads are littered with all kinds of trash people leave behind or throw out of the windows of their cars with total disregard for the environment and our own health.

The old Salt-Dead Sea road, one of the most scenic in the country during the spring season, is now heavily littered with all sorts of plastic bags and discarded food remains from weekend picnickers. So are many areas adjacent to streams or the road that leads to the Shuneh region. And so is the case with the main highway linking Amman with the Dead Sea and its hotel areas.

No space elsewhere in the country seems to be spared a similar fate.

No matter how much effort is exerted to stem this threat to nature, no matter how many awareness campaigns are carried out, many fellow citizens continue to litter away, oblivious to the danger to nature and the image of the country.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, with support from USAID, is embarking on a plan of action to stem widespread littering. The goal is to begin the process of cleaning up and, more importantly, to foster a new mindset among the public, making it more conscious of the need to keep the country clean and its environment protected.

The plan involves distributing bags to picnickers who then should have them deposited in areas designated for trash collection. The scheme is based on a friendly persuasion approach that may or may not work on its own.

It is suggested that some more forceful methods be adopted to complement the society’s project, including imposing penalties on people who litter.

This could be done through a special police force that could have all vulnerable areas under surveillance.

Like in so many other domains, it is time to resort to laws and enforce them in the case of people who litter. If that is one workable solution, it should be applied compellingly and consistently.