Recycle America!

One of the great things I like about the States is the attempts to recycle practically everything.  I realize we are still far behind and there’s always more to do to save Planet Earth.  But compared to Turkey, we are miles ahead.

Behind?  Absolutely!  I remember one day back in the 90’s (I think it was), one of my young German cousins had written an essay in English and asked my assistance for editing.  I happily accepted the task but was completely shocked when I saw the topic!  She wrote about how Americans do not recycle.  I had to set her straight.  True, we weren’t as far along as the Germans, but we were doing it!

In the early 80’s, recycling came to West Chester.  Our little borough distributed plastic bins just for this purpose.  Glass, cans, and plastic each had their own bin.  Paper was to be tied.  Eventually, we mixed them all together except the paper.  A second truck followed our weekly trash pickup truck for collection.

Recycling Bin

In the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, recycling was a little more slow.  I moved there in 1998 and the pickup of our recycled items came to my neighborhood a little later.  Of course, there were and still are bins throughout the States where one can deliver there recycling if they don’t have pickup.

Schools, hospitals, and other institutions soon fell in line, placing recycling bins next to trash cans.

In Ankara, there is practically no recycling.  Although we have daily trash pickup, recycling is simply not an option.  Once in a while we see a large recycling bin on a sidewalk.  In fact, there used to be one on our street.  It was overflowing with garbage and then it was removed.

My husband and I quickly learned to recycle in our own way.  You see, the daily trash pickup brings with it people you steal the “valuables” to resell.  They rip through the bags, shortly before the truck comes through, and take all of the cans and bottles.

So we decided to make it easy for them.  We don’t like seeing the bags ripped open, even if for a brief period.  We gather all of our recyclables throughout the week and put them in a large see-through bag.  We toss them out with the trash, making it easier for the thief to steal them.  To be fair, this is their livelihood and we don’t mind doing it.  It’s not as if we are looking to make money off of our trash ourselves. (My position on this certainly has changed since I wrote about it  about a year and a half ago!)

Most embarrassing to me, are the Turkish universities that do not recycle.  It is particularly offensive with my husband being a professor of environmental engineering.  “Save the Environment!” for petesake!  I cry this over and over.  One day I will get off my bum and start the program at the schools.  It’s the least I can do, right?

There are tons of natural resources being wasted every minute of every day around the world.  Water.  Oh my, how we waste that!  I love that my mom runs a dehumidifier in her basement.  She does it because the walls down there were crumbling in the 100+ years house.

The dehumidifier is emptied (Thanks Dan!) every morning into large buckets.  Mom then uses the water to take care of her plants.  I tried doing something similar in Ankara.  Our clothes dryer does not vent to the outside.  Instead, it has a large drawer that collects the water from each load.  I tried to save the water for my plants.  Unfortunately, my plants didn’t like whatever was left behind in the water from the detergents and fabric softener.  So I’m still looking for another use or better detergents.

Back to he good ole U.S. of A. – I came across a fabulous recycling of water tool last week.  While visiting a dear friend, I noticed a large barrel in front of his home.  It is rigged to the rain gutters in front of his house.  He is collecting rain water.  At the bottom of the barrel is a small spigot where he can release the water to fill a watering can or fill his dog’s water bowl.  It can also be used to wash off hands and feet after working or playing in the yard.

Installed Rain Barrel

What I loved most about the water barrel was that kids were involved in the project!  He purchased the rain barrel during a silent auction at the Watershed Milestones Award Ceremony & Reception, hosted by the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership .  The rain barrel was hand-painted by the Germantown Friends School Environmental Action Club (5th Graders)!

Art of Collecting Rain Water

The kids’ club also received an award:

Rain Barrel Artists (and our friend!)

The idea that recycling can be made so easy through strategically placed cans and weekly pickup has always been exciting to me.  But enlisting kids in a way that is fun to them and educational at the same time is just tremendous!

Hey Turkey, I know you will argue no funds for pickup!  It’s a load of you know what.  No one needs daily trash pickup.  Learn to use larger trash cans in the home.  Spend some of the resources from trash pickup on recycling.  No one loses a job!

And teach your children well!  If they start young, they will have a lovely beautiful earth to continue to enjoy when they are our ages!

6 thoughts on “Recycle America!

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  1. . . the best and most effective form of recycling is to stop using plastics! Forget all the industry bullshit about ‘bio-degradable’, there is no such thing. Recycling is a panacea for the excessive consumtion of the developed world and one of the ways of socialising overheads to maximise profits – blame the public/governments for not recycling and not the manufacturers who want to exclude the real costs from their price. When the true costs of production are included in the price we soon learn to be more discerning! Mind you, with Mother Earth already passed the tipping point of global warming, it’s all rather academic. The planet will go on and evolve but much else is on the downward slope to oblivion.
    In the 20 years since Rio the situation has got much worse – with corporations rejoicing the fact that with global warming melting the polar ice they can get at the oil and gas there more cheaply – meanwhile, lets have a war with Russia to keep them out of it.
    Why do I say we are passed the tipping point? The tundras are thawing out releasing vast quantities of methane (along the Arctic coastline of Russia the sea is ‘boiling’ with released gas), a far more potent greenhouse gas. Recycle by all means, it makes our streets and neighbourhoods easier on our eyes and salves our consciences about our complicity through consumption in the environmental and human crimes commited to satisfy our greed.

  2. The problem for Turkey will always be the entire families who live near landfill sites and make a meagre living from recycling rubbish. They are at the bottom of the heap (forgive the pun) of Turkish society.

  3. I’ve been wanting to post on Ankara’s lackluster approach to recycling too! It baffles me! Especially since my mom is German and I’ve lived in Germany for 6 years – the Turks need to take a lesson from the Germans when it comes to garbage (:

  4. The water barrel is a great idea! My mom just uses large buckets to catch the rain water, which she uses to water her garden.

    In Turkey, it’s sad to see how easily trash is just thrown on the street and even on the beaches. In Yumartalik, families just picnicked there and then left all the trash on the beach. It was littered with trash by the end of the day! Of course, you see this same scene in so many places in Turkey. You’ve got to start educating the youth to make a lasting effect.

  5. In Fethiye they’ve started a new recycling initiative and it’s awesome, special bins all over the place and you don’t have to separate anything! If the council could work out how to stop people wrecking beaches by dumping trash that would be perfect, but at least you know some places in Turkey do recycle!
    They actually used to have a lot more glass recycling in Ankara, but about 6 years ago they removed the majority of the bins as they were labelled a bomb risk.

    1. Hey Mary! Good to hear from you. First, let me say that upon my return to Ankara, there is a new recycling bin on my street. We will see how long that lasts.

      And I hear you on the bomb risk. Chasing our shadows. Once there was a bomb. Have you noticed that there are no trash cans anywhere? Ask anyone why. Fear of bombs. Ridiculous.

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