Wasteage and Recycling

I’ve just watched the first episode of Craig Reucassel’s “War on Waste”, and it’s got me thinking… about how complacent I’ve become with not.

When I first arrived in Melbourne, in halls of residence, I was shocked at not having a separate bin for food-scraps. Quite a few of us were, actually. “Why can’t we compost it? There’s a garden – why not?”

An OH&S issue, apparently, but that was three and a half months ago and somehow, over those three and a half months, I’ve become okay with the idea of putting food-scraps in the same bin as all the non-recyclables. I don’t have to think about it anymore. In the first few weeks, I had to pause every time in front of the bins and work out where to put things. Now it’s just automatic.

At home, most of the food scraps were fed to the chooks; and anything that wasn’t was composted. Here, they just go to non-recyclable landfill where, according to Craig, they produce more methane than cows (or some similar statistic).

Two weeks after arriving, I had a slight meltdown on FaceBook about plastic bags. That’s definitely a state thing, because in South Australia, we haven’t had plastic bags since 2009. Yes, you can still pay 10c and get a biodegradable plastic bag, but we’ve been using cloth “green bags” since I was 13. My entire adult grocery-shopping life as involved green bags, brought along with you and filled to the brim by the checkout chick.

Then I arrived in Melbourne, and not only were the bags plastic, but only one or two things was put in each bag. My brain boggled. My brain couldn’t handle it. My quieter, less hurried South Australian mouth couldn’t speak fast enough or loud enough to ask the cashiers to do something different.

Bolstered by the assurances and suggestions of my new friends in Melbourne, I started taking me green bags along with me and asking the checkout chicks to fill those instead. I still have to repack them myself, because they still don’t know how, but at least I’m not getting any more plastic bags. I only got them for two weeks, and I’m still working through the pile of them as bin liners.

Two weeks’ worth of plastic bags. Three months later.

There are other things. I’m throwing out paper. I never did that at home. It all went on the fire, in one form or another, to keep us warm.

I have a box full of plastic containers and glass jars under my bed, because my brain can’t compute throwing them out.

Watching “War on Waste” has knocked some sense back into me. I don’t know how long it will last, because nothing’s going to change here, and my new environment will no doubt desensitise me again soon enough.

But watching the show has reminded me about just how shocked I was by all the waste when I first arrived her. It’s given me back, once again, just a little bit of the shock I had three months ago at the food-scraps going to landfill and the plastic bags carrying the shopping…

… and all the perfectly-shaped, perfectly ripe fruit and veg that means I don’t get the choice I’m used to having about the size of the fresh produce I buy because, at Foodland, all that “special” food that Coles and Woollies won’t sell is just in with all the rest of it.



Israel – The Things They Don’t Tell You – Recycling

This is part of several posts I’m doing about the uncommonly-mentioned – but incredibly prominent – aspects of visiting Israel… or any country, come to think of it. I seem to notice the unusual things when travelling, and I may well have discovered an unhealthy predilection for toilets.

Israelis are pretty keen on recycling. (Palestinians not so much). Israel is the first place I’ve visited which has bottle depositories – aside from the Northern Territory, no other state in Australia even has bottle depositories. Unlike here in South Australia, however, Israelis don’t get 10c (or 30 hundredth-shekels?) for depositing their bottles.

Across the entire country, bottle depositories look like this, and appear basically on every street corner and in every public park:

That’s one in Tel Dan (Golan) and two (with blue rooves) in Tiberia (Galilee). Isn’t that cheery? If only rubbish bins looked like that all over the world.

Bottle depositories in Tel Aviv, however, were for some reason much plainer. A little larger, admittedly, but much plainer.

Recycling - Tel Aviv

And, on the topic of public parks, there are a lot of them. In Israel, there are basically two town-planning styles: the Arab way and the Jewish way. The Arab way is much more organic, which houses being added and grown as necessary. It’s a little charming, and reminiscent of the way old cities across Europe were built centuries ago, and has the same result: tightly-packed houses in a cement maze.

The Jewish style smacks of socialist 1960s Europe. It features tall apartment buildings, all uniform and in rows, interspersed with stretches of green public space. It’s cleaner, and neater, but it feels a little clinical – although at least they have the parks.

Although the motel in Ein Gev had driers, I understand from some of the other tourists there that this isn’t the norm. From my observations in towns, this seems to be true – Israelis, like Australians, hang their washing out to dry.

Apartments - Washing

They don’t do it on overlarge umbrellas like we do, though. As you can see from this photo taken in Ber Sheva, washing is hung straight out of the window. While you do see this in the city in Australia, most windows in an Israeli apartment block are equipped with metal bars – not to keep robbers out, but to stop children calling out and dying. These cages form the perfect place to hang washing to dry.

The Second Day – First Morning in Israel (Tel Aviv)

I slept soundly until about 5am, with a brief break at about 2am. Traffic had started up by then, so I couldn’t really sleep and we gave up and got up at 6, only to be greeted by this view outside the window:

01 - Window Panorama

My phrase of the day is “Anakhnu nelekh le-Yoffa ha-yom”, or “We’re going to Joffa today” (I hope). I watched some children’s telly before breakfast, and apparently the number of the day (according to the Israeli version of Sesame Street) is “shesh” (6). Since I can only remember “echad” (1) and “shesh” (6), I think I need to revise my numbers.

We headed down at breakfast at a leisurely 8. There was a lot to choose from. For starters, orange-juice was self-squeezing, which was cool. Tea seems to be taken with lemon and mint here, so I complied and added both to my tea.

There was halva – yay! – apple strudel, and some sort of savoury pastry which I ate. I wanted some of the scrambled egg, but couldn’t be sure it didn’t have milk in it. I was going to ask one of the staff who had been nearby, but he wasn’t, so I turned to the couple just nearby and asked, “Chelev?”, pointing at the dish in question.

“Excuse me?” the man asked – with an American accent!

I explained that I wondered if the egg had milk in it, but they just shrugged. I asked a couple of kitchen girls nearby, but they didn’t have much English and didn’t understand that I wanted to know for sure that the egg didn’t have milk in it (they seemed to think I wanted the milk in). Eventually they got the staff guy back, who was usually manning the frying-things booth, and he made me a cheese-and-milk-free omelette.

It was very windy outside when we set off at 10.

02 - Bus Panorama.jpg

Yuval explained that a cloud of dust is blowing in from the Aegean at tremendous speeds, and the effects will be in place until probably Thursday.

03 - Beach Construction

construction along the beach

The beach looked most unappealing, but apparently the windsurfers love it.

03 - Kite Surfing.jpg

We saw yet more bike-hire racks.

02 - Beach Bikes

02 - Park Bikes

And a plastics recycling depot near the park.

04 - Recycling Depot

Yuval’s word of the day is “balagan”, which he says means “mess”. By the way he says it, I suspect it might have a slightly stronger meaning.