You usually travel to the other side of the world, looking for a break from your regular routines and a chance to experience how others live.
As someone who works in the waste management profession, I sometimes find it hard to leave work behind. When I’m away, I have a tendency to look for all things recycling. And, as I go through my hundreds of beautiful landscape photos, I can’t help but laugh when I see the photos of recycling bins, posters and billboards all in various languages. I like to see what other countries do to promote recycling. Do they even have recycling programs, what items do they recycle, and how do they educate their residents? All of this information can be brought back with me to help our residents understand recycling in Halton.
I just came home from an amazing vacation in Africa, and I would like to tell you some of my stories about recycling from half way across the world!
While in Africa, we got to enjoy many of the local delicacies. But surprisingly, like many countries, these delicacies were sold in modern day packaging — most of it plastic. Most of our meals came with drinks served in plastic bottles too. So after every meal, my first instinct was to find the recycling bin, but to my dismay, no Blue Box could be found. Now what? I had to force myself to throw my recycling in the garbage. For a quick second, I played with the idea of bringing my recycling home, but thought the local air traffic authorities may have an issue with it!
What was amazing though, as I travelled further into Africa, was that I was finding recycling bins in the most unexpected places! In one leg of my great adventure I found myself in Kruger National Park. This was the animal adventure portion of my trip: day and night park drives looking for the animals in their natural habitat. It was the last place I expected to find an extensive recycling program. Right there, in the middle of our camp was a well labelled, very obvious recycling and garbage bin. The easy to follow pictures on the bins appealed to the many visitors with varying languages that visit the park each year. They even had bins scattered throughout the park. Each rest station was fully equipped with recycling and garbage bins too. It was great: you could recycle and watch animals at the same time!
I even found recycling bins at the highest point in South Africa: Table Mountain National Park. This is a flat topped mountain 1,067 meters high, overlooking the picturesque Cape Town City. Table Mountain has actually been recently listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. This national park takes great pride in their environmental education programs. It shows in their amazing waste system on top of the mountain. Bins were scattered around the top of the mountain for garbage and recycling, and they even had organics collection! Near the café they even had small can crushers to conserve space in their recycling bins.
Throughout my trip I was surprised at some of the places that did not have recycling, but was even more surprised at some of the places that did!
When travelling, I am reminded that everyone creates waste, regardless of where they live. It also reminds me that every person on the planet has a responsibility to manage their waste properly so we can minimize the impact on our environment. We all must do our part — after all, we all share this great planet.
On vacation, where’s the most unexpected place you’ve found a recycling bin? Feel free to share your stories and incredible photos!