Saturday, December 31, 2011

Garbage


The intricacies of garbage disposal around the world are fascinating.

In Japan, the garbage disposal came on Mondays and… Thursdays, I think. You received small yellow bags which were placed organizedly in a specific spot for organized garbage pick-up and disposal. The results? Ridicously clean surroundings (but then again, the Japanese cleaned their escalators.)

In China, the maid came in, cleaned, and took the trash. We didn't see much of where it was going. There were trash cans everywhere, people sweeping places with brooms, etc. They'd wash the sidewalks every once in a while, but— and this is a big difference— Chinese people that phlegm is poisonous. And they will spit it out. The sidewalks suffer. There are cigarette butts everywhere.

Tibet was much the same, only that they seem to have much less garbage— people there seem to use a lot less packaged foods… which means much less garbage.

In Nepal, they burned it. People would sweep up their trash into little piles and set fire to it. It might be plastic, it might be orange peels, paper, whatever. They don't have garbage disposal because Nepali believe that setting garbage outside your front door means that the gods/good luck won't visit you. Hence? They just throw it out wherever— including the river, which is supposed to wash away all the garbage. But with so many people in Nepal… and so many non-biodegradable products, how can it? It's just a river.

In India, the concept is much the same. The difference between India and Nepal, however, is that Indians don't burn the garbage. There are signs everywhere, saying NO GARBAGE DISPOSAL HERE, etc. Usually, the sign is surrounded by garbage. It's ridiculous.

Dogs are pawing through the garbage, looking for food— so are goats. EVEN COWS. These people have so many different cultural relics and monuments which are beautiful and fantastic and stunning— white marble and red sandstone and carved flowers and arabesques… etc… and yet they don't have a garbage disposal in place. Sure, there are trash cans, and in Goa we can just put out our trash bags and someone comes to get them… but we don't know where it's going. We don't know if that garbage is going in the river or if it's going to a landfill (I'm betting on the river— I don't think there's a landfill big enough.) or if it's actually going to be disposed of properly.

It's kind of mind-boggling that a country so big, that has managed to do so many things, still doesn't have a green method (or even a clean method, at this point!) of getting rid of their garbage and trash. Culture definitely has a lot to do with it… (untouchables, the lowest caste in Hindu society, handled garbage), but why does that mean that the entire society has to basically live in a dump heap? It just doesn't make much sense to me.

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