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.
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.
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)!
The kids’ club also received an award: http://www.germantownfriends.org/news/article/index.aspx?linkid=952&moduleid=39
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!