|"Trash Can Line," released to the Public Domain by "Hyena"|
What comes to your mind when you see this picture? Perhaps relief that society has come so far in our recycling efforts? Contentment that people everywhere are placing increased focus on minimizing what is sent to landfills? Or does something else come to mind?
For me, it's the something else.
Way back on Blog Day One, I mentioned the impact that my father's stories of life in Africa had on me. One of the most life-shaping stories he ever shared was not really a story at all. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't even remember telling me this, because it was merely a brief, passing comment, uttered over a soon-to-be-tied garbage bag. But it stuck with me for decades. And it went a little something like this:
It would take my village in Africa an entire year to generate the amount of garbage one family in America generates in a week.
Wow. Really. Wow. Whether it will end up in a landfill, or be recycled, reused, or repurposed, isn't it shocking, when you think about it, how much "stuff" is brought into our homes, only to be sent out later, in one collection container or another?
Now I know none of us needs another commentary on the importance of minimizing waste production, separating recyclables, etc. Instead, in honor of Earth Day, and in keeping with the multicultural theme of this blog, I thought it might be interesting to share...
what Garbage Day looks like around the world
So I asked a few fellow bloggers, and this is what I learned:
Marie's Pastiche: In our province, Nova Scotia, Canada, garbage is collected twice a month, with recycling and compost collected on alternate weeks. They are also beginning to put into place a maximum of bags accepted, and they will soon be required to be clear bags, to ensure recyclables, compostable items are not thrown out with regular garbage.
Lou Messugo blog: In my town in the south of France, household waste is collected twice a week (3 times in the summer months), packaging is taken once a week for recycling, glass is recycled once a fortnight and garden waste once a week. This is from our home. We can also take unlimited quantities of green waste to the dump where it is composted. If we have something large to get rid of like a fridge/TV we call and it will be picked up within a week to be disposed of correctly.
Vibrant Wanderings: On Guam, trash once a week and they were just beginning to offer curbside recycling in select neighborhoods. Trash service was very expensive there, and they are strict about how much they would take because there are only so many places to put waste on such a small island. Unfortunately, this seemed to result in a lot of dumping in the jungle, and a lot of burning trash. Where I am now, in Maryland, trash is picked up twice a week and recycling once. On the first trash day of the week, we can put out yard waste and on the second, "heavy trash" like appliances and furniture. Along with recycling, we can do "ecycling" (electronics). Nowhere I have lived offers composting - I wish that was as common here as in other countries.
Expat Since Birth: In Netherlands (next to The Hague area): yard waste (incl. composting) every two weeks (in a big container every household gets from the Gemeente) and weekly trash every two weeks (also in a container from the Gemeente). We recycle pretty much: plastic, glass, paper, electronics (of course!) etc. and have extra collecting points where to bring them. Also: every two weeks they collect paper (we get a pretty big container for that too, but we try to not fill it up in two weeks).
Howling Yoga Books: In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the garbage truck comes once a week only for waste. Recycling is treated differently. People who live on the streets or need extra money collect recyclable items and sell them to places (cardboard, cans, soda bottles, etc.), then the city doesn't need to take care of that. There are always people on the streets looking for such items to sell, especially at the beach where people consume a lot and there are not many trash cans unfortunately.
MarocMama: Here in Morocco they do pick up garbage maybe a few times a week but it's everywhere. There's no real recycling pick up, though most houses reuse containers and jars. We also separate out our bread from the garbage and it's fed to animals so it doesn't go to waste. People throw a lot of garbage outside, on the street, etc. One of the saddest things is seeing fields of plastic bags on a beautiful Moroccan backdrop. I live in a very urban city though - in rural areas I believe that waste is regularly burned in small batches.
Thanks to the great bloggers from Multicultural Kid Blogs for sharing this brief and interesting look at garbage day around the world.
Happy Earth Day!