Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Recycling Scene

Hungary isn't well known for it's green qualities, though I have written before about the bottle bins that are dotted around the town. I've also heard from a couple of different people that the bins are a farce as there aren't enough proper recycling facilities to actually deal with all the plastic and glass people throw away so it just ends up in normal landfill anyway.

I was reading another foreigner's take on Hungary and saw that he's very into recycling and a bit shocked at how people don't feel the moral obligation to do it here. You can read it here but be warned it's only a needle of a paragraph amongst a haystack of witterings.

More about chucking outIt might be because I moved here before the recycling took off in the UK (I now hear they have separate bins for glass, paper etc at each house in my home village) but I've always been impressed by the efforts of Hungarians not to waste anything in the first place. In the lovely lady's family, who are my main contacts to Hungarian home life, waste in general is frowned upon. The "waste not want not" theme is the same as my family too, so we get along quite well. The Hungarian grandmother would even go so far as to cut the plastic milk bags (you know the ones, the cheapest milk you can get, sometimes tastes a bit funny) into strips and then weave them into tough doormats. It works quite well and there's one sitting in front of our flat.

If it looks like someone can make use of something then it usually is. In Budapest there are lots of tramps feeding their palinka habit by pushing trolleys around town and collecting up anything they think might be worth a bit of cash. They deal mainly in cardboard that's left out next to the bins (it's rarely put in the bins). Old water and gas pipes are also picked up when they're thrown out but I think that's more of a jackpot win for the scavengers. There isn't a day that goes by without seeing at least one guy pushing his trolley along stacked high with cardboard and paper. Trying to get as much on before going to the depo where they'll get paid by the kilogram for it. I have no idea what the going rate for paper is, but from my Opi experience, scrap metal is 8Ft/kilo.

So my point is that while it looks like people don't recycle, I think they do. It's just in a different way. People waste less to begin with, then the recycling items they do chuck away are placed outside of bins for others to make use of. How sustainable this method is as the country gets richer and more "disposable" with hopefully fewer homeless, I'm not sure but right now I certainly don't feel guilty about throwing out my huge stacks of papers. I know they will be happily received by someone that needs the money from them.

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