It's CHamoru for shame.

Mamåhlao, according to Guampedia, is the code of conduct for CHamoru people that spells out how respect is practiced, and how harmony and balance are achieved in the conduct of its people. The concept of shame in Chamorro culture ensures that every person, no matter what rank, has a part in creating harmony through their actions, Guampedia explains.

We bring this up in light of the continued trashing of our island.

Some of our fellow Guamanians don't feel mamåhlao when they leave all sorts of trash – from dirty diapers to broken household appliances and beer cans – out in the jungle areas.

People purposely drive up to jungle areas to dispose of their household trash when they might be able to take the same amount of time and gas money driving their trash to a transfer station or cobbling up some money for monthly trash service.

This gross practice of dumping trash for others to clean up needs to stop.

Illegal trash dumping is particularly shameful when people who go to beaches or go on hikes to enjoy the scenery often end up doing the cleanup of other people's mess.

This is a priority our elected officials should focus on. We have said this before but the problem persists.

The current laws and enforcement have not been effective.

It's time to change things up. Make penalties tougher and fines higher.

Punish violators by making them clean up some of the dirtiest, most disgusting, decaying trash that can be found in other parts of the island. And make the cleanup public on social media.

Use the concept of mamåhlao by shaming illegal dumpers.

Any politician seeking reelection, even those who don't intend to stay in office, needs to leave a legacy to the community and the environment — and changing the enforcement and laws on illegal dumping would be a good way to do it.

It doesn't look like the messages politicians issue for a cleaner, more beautiful Guam have been working.

We need a mindset shift.

Excuses have been made on behalf of illegal dumpers that poverty is the cause of their behavior. We're not buying it. Poverty does not keep people from practicing recycling, reducing the level of trash they generate, and using less disposable items.  

It's time for tough actions to deal with the problem of illegal dumping.


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