Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Posts Tagged ‘waste

Prepackaged Japan

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Sometimes we buy our dinner meal at a supermarket, as a way of keeping costs down, getting fresh fruit and veg, and trying local foods. There are many pre-packaged meals that are ready to eat, healthy and delicious. However, enjoying these meals certainly comes at an environmental cost. The Japanese love their packaging.  
Everything is wrapped. Bento boxes, rice balls, salads. All in plastic. Soy sauce, wasabi? Available. In tiny little plastic sachets. Chopsticks? Yup. Wrapped (think also massive deforestation, as the takeaway business is big business here. Thats a lot of wooden chopsticks that get chopped down from trees). Plastic spoons and forks. Plastic wrapped in plastic.  

The Japanese also love their beautifully wrapped presents, often food stuff from specific regions, highlighting the specialty of the area. They make great looking gifts, but inside is _______ (insert whatever the food stuff is here), often again individually packaged. Think a dozen sakura (cherry blossom) shaped biscuits. All in a gift box, wrapped in plastic, then put in a plastic bag, and EACH INDIVIDUAL biscuit is also wrapped, once you get inside the box! It seems crazy to us.

Even when we go to checkout at the supermarket, and bring our little reusable shopping bag, it is often met with some disbelief. But hey. We are kind of getting used to that look. Because it is very similar to the look we get when we tell people here that we are vegetarian. On, on! 

Even the bananas are individually wrapped! WTF?!?


Oh to be a Zoomlion….

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One of the things that is immediately striking about Tamale, in comparison to hometown Perth, is the litter that is strewn everywhere.  Plastic waste abounds, and much rubbish is simply burned by the roadside. 

Unfortunately, litter strewn scenes like this are altogether too commonly seen here

However, there IS an alternative offered, which is a “pick up rubbish” service by a group called the Zoomlions.  An impressive sounding name, name (though there is nothing speedy nor leonine about their service), we were keen to enlist their assistance.  The process itself was a test of our patience, but after three plus months of dogged determination, we finally received our “Zoomlion bin” and get a weekly pick up of our rubbish.  This is all “fee for service”, of course (about 5 Aussie dollars per month).  It is not clear to us whether the Zoomlions take the rubbish to landfill, or if it is burned;  either way, we feel it is a more environmentally responsible choice than burning our own rubbish (the only other alternative available); in addition to the compost bin we have that works overtime in our “garden”.

Anyhow, recently we were attendees at a launch of a VSO sponsored project where the Vice President of Ghana was to be in attendance.  We were quietly bemused by the fanfare, pomp and circumstance that was evident with this dignitary’s arrival.  One of the interesting observations was that the Zoomlions were EVERYWHERE.  There was a whole team of them;  clad in smart blue outfits complemented by bright orange fluoro vests, we noticed they proudly called themselves the Zoomlion “Waste and Sanitation Module”.  They scouted the crowd, and regularly came by to pick up the incessant “water sachets” that quickly emptied in the heat of the afternoon sun.

It was interesting to see that places CAN be kept spotless, but all at a cost.  Elsewhere, people simply litter.  There are rarely, if ever, any bins around for proper disposal, and it is utterly commonplace for people to toss plastic bags, empty water sachets, etc… out of their car windows while travelling, or just throw them over their shoulder while walking.  It is a common practice, and still one we haven’t quite managed to get used to…..But we are glad that the Zoomlions are around, and do make a difference.

Written by Mar(k)

May 31, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Life in Ghana

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