Thinking back to your childhood, did you ever get in trouble for something and then try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to someone who was “worse” than you? “Yes, mom I did steal your car keys without permission, but Johnny next door put a snake in the freezer.”

Since we all feel pretty embarrassed about our trash situation, let’s see how Beirut measures up compared to the worst garbage disasters around the world in recent memory.

1. Toronto, Canada - 2009

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The longest labor dispute in the city’s history, Toronto’s garbage strike lasted 36 days. If you have ever been to Canada in summer, you know that it is a very hot and humid time—the fact that garbage pick-up was suspended during July made the situation uber gross. Food vendors in the downtown core reported a reduced number of customers looking to grab a hot dog or a burger off the street. Can you blame them?

2. Naples, Italy - 2008

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The birthplace of pizza, Naples is usually not associated with trash. But in 2008, a strange political gridlock between the government and the mafia saw a serious garbage crisis that lasted a year. The military was eventually brought in to break the gridlock as the public expressed worries of toxic waste being dumped—which is linked to an increase in cancers and birth defects.

3. Bangalore, India - 2014

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The southern Indian city of Bangalore has had its fair share of municipal mismanagement and one of the worst cases was the garbage crisis of 2014. Doctors reported an increase in numbers of patients—particularly the young and the elderly—falling ill as a direct result of the unsanitary conditions. The poor and homeless were the most severely impacted by the crisis.

4. New York, United States - 1981

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Christmas in New York is usually a fun and festive affair - but in 1981, the holiday season was ruined by the disgusting sight and smell of piles and piles of trash on the streets. New Yorkers had to deal with subzero temperatures and thousands of tons of uncollected garbage. Out of desperation, some residents burned the trash piles which resulted in an increased amount of airborne diseases.

5. Johannesburg, South Africa - 2016

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South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, is currently in the gripes of a garbage strike where thousands of workers are refusing to collect trash. Rats are a big problem there and they even have a hotline to report increased rodent activity. Ew.

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