Wednesday, August 13, 2008

....and then we sort the recyling.....that's not part of it, but it's still very important.

i had neglected to write about the recycling habits of taiwanese people until now because to me, it is kind of old news. but then i mentioned it to my mother and she persuaded me to blog about it, so here we go.
the process of correct recycling in taiwan requires an education. there are, of course, your essentials of trash and recycling, but that is merely skimming the surface of the subject. no, what i'm talking about is Real Recycling, the kind that taiwan is really into. you have your trash, your compost, your papers, your plastics, your metals and glass. but what, exactly, goes into each one? in this subject, i find it best to evaluate your american attitudes about recycling and put them aside. you are not in kansas anymore, toto, you are in taiwan, where we are deep into Real Recycling. for example, in america, would you ever consider of putting a used pizza box in the paper pile? no. but in taiwan, you do. secondly: would you ever think for a moment of taking the utensils of your foundation drink apart, such as straw, plastic covering, cup, leftover ice, and then putting each in a seperate bin when you leave a restaurant? not a chance. but when in taiwan......

my introduction to recycling in taiwan came my very first day there. in the midst of filling out very important government papers, i hear a pleasant song coming from the street, which sounded like an ice cream truck. delighted, i said, "hey! ice cream truck!" my boss's wife was swift to correct me when she said, "no. that is the garbage truck. you will get trained on garbage and recycling tomorrow."
she wasn't kidding. the next day, one of the secretaries met us upstairs, where she inspected our american views of what is trash and then corrected them. trash (which includes things like wrappers, straws, used paper towels), metal, compost (all food products), plastic, and paper, not to be confused with trash. if you can rinse it out and it's still conceivably a paper product, like your takeout box from last night's dumplings, it goes in the paper pile.

please sort your recycling carefully, was the message of our recycling training, because the trashmen inspect our trash bags when we give it to them everyday. if they do not pass inspection, they give it back and you have to try again the next day. and you thought that song was the call of pleasantries such as ice cream for everyone with a spare dollar. no, the garbage truck is a tricky process for the educated.

needless to say, trying to sort the recycling is a mental exersice that i never thought of engaging in. when we go to McDonald's as a group, it takes us about ten minutes to get all of our waste sorted. there are pictures of just about every wrapper and container that your consumeable products come in, and since we are foreigners and we want to be seen as anything but callous and uncaring towards other countries, we are careful about following recycling directions. and i wasn't making it up when i said that your leftover ice goes into one little tube, and your leftover food in yet another, while the wrapper that surrounded your food is thrown away, as is the spoon that carried the food to your mouth, but the cup and lid that contained your food into one spot in the universe are probably recyclable.
i wish that there was some sort of test that you could give an object that you are thinking of recycling in order to properly classify it, but such an evaluation does not exist, to my knowledge. you just kinda have to learn it through trial and error, trainings at work, and diagrams at the McDonald's.

there is still much to write about the kids, the trips to chunghua and alishan, the androgyny, and the chinglish, but alas, they must wait until another time.

stay tuned folks,

miss meaygghan.

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