Monday, April 20, 2015

Disappearing garbage

In my town in Israel and most towns worldwide, ten years ago, the husband (or other family member if he was not available) took out the garbage because, obviously, the garbage was full and possibly smelly.  Today, in Israel, without carrot or stick so to speak, garbage has shrunk to the point that the garbage bin smells long before it fills up. My main garbage bag in the kitchen contains what used to collect hourly in the small bag in the “triangle” by the sink.  In other words, at least in the house (but unfortunately not on television), we produce less and less refuse.

To explain, all large plastic bottles are put in a box to be transferred to recycling bins located in every neighborhood. Plastic wrapping and other food packaging goes to a recently introduced bin in our neighborhood recycling center.  We use the few plastic bags that we bring home, mainly when buying fruits and vegetables, for our cats’ waste. Glass and plastic beverage bottles are collected and brought to the supermarket for a rebate.  All paper, which my office produces too much of, is placed in a recycle bin in that same center.  Organic material without fat is put in our compost bin in our garden.  The neighborhood cats happily consume the chicken fat or bones, no waste there.  All that is left is the tissues consumed fighting my seasonal allergies and some scraps from the plates, which eventually create an unpleasant odor and have to be dumped.

In Israel, the placement of neighborhood recycling centers has quietly made this revolution possible without financial rewards, except in the case of beverage bottles, or penalties.  Admittedly, not everybody recycles but the sheer convenience of it gradually is bringing along, even the most insular families.  The proof is that the recycling bins fill up very quickly. In Los Angeles, the city provides three garbage bins, one each for household garbage, garden waste and recyclables, with the first being the smallest. In the West, garbage reduction has become necessary and possible.  Other cities set the garbage fee based on volume.  I am happy to admit that this is one culture change that I fully support.

I would be interested in hearing on how your locale is treating the issue.

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