An update on how my recycling pledge is going. My mission (which I have chosen to accept) is to not use plastic bags for a week. Results so far.... not good.
Day one - wrote the post about the pledge, was all on a high and feeling good about what I was about to accomplish. Realised that I was 10 minutes late in picking the boys up from nursery. Ran out of the house. Without plastic bags. Totally forgot until in the bakers and no way to balance the number of bread items with 2 toddlers, scooters and greedy dog. I think we could safely say, in the terms of that splendid game Battleships: 'MISS'.
Day two - there are now plastic bags all over the place. In every pocket of every item of clothing I can think of, in the car, tied to the dogs lead and pretty much a few tied to my wrist. Ran into the store and had a sudden panic. Had these plastic bags had raw chicken in them? Our plastic bags are usually used for picking up dog poo so I don't worry too much about the previous contents. But suddenly I was panicking about salmonella. Retreated from store carrying the goods in my hand. Not sure if it is a 'HIT' but wasn't a 'MISS' either.
Day three - HIT! Had bags, bought items and went to put items into said bags. The shop keepers thought I was a bit mad, tried to bag them up for me in order that I could put them into my bag. My Bosnian is improving but doesn't stretch to 'I've made a pledge for the (British) National Recycling week not to use plastic bags, please just give me the goods and I'll sort myself out'. I sort of shrugged, snatched and contributed to the impression that the British family down the road do things a bit differently to everyone else.
Day four - we shall see. I'm on day four now and haven't been near a shop yet. Judging my own performance it has to be said it looks as if I'll be getting up on Sunday. Curses.
In the meantime, I've been thinking a bit more about recycling. The other British bloggers in Bosnia, We Do Adventure, wrote a moving post about the recycling efforts in Mostar a bit of which I shall shamelessly steal now:
"It is true that most Bosnian shopkeepers would be genuinely offended, bemused, or both, if you tried to exit their store without your purchases safely wrapped in a generous selection of carrier bags. I could talk about how these bags end up blowing about the city, adorning trees and shrubs like some exotic form of flora. However, I’m going to lurch off in a slightly different direction.
I remember one occasion after a particularly windy day when I should have stopped and photographed a field full of this freakish foliage. It was a truly sobering site, all the more so because it bordered the rubbish dump where many of the young people we know live and work with their families. We put our rubbish in the large bin on our street. They come around and rummage through the bin rescuing anything useful, like bottles for recycling or metal for resale. They are the heroes of recycling in Mostar".
Here in Tuzla there are also many people who go through the rubbish bins looking for anything that can be reused. I have made a new pledge to myself, to separate out anything that might be useful and leave it in a separate bag for them to easily access.
Just in case we should be thinking that the rummaging of rubbish is a Bosnian (or less wealthy country) characteristic, Califlorna also writes about this in her home state in California:
"Here on the Balboa Peninsula, as I’ve mentioned before, we’re all crammed into a tiny space. There’s just not enough room for all the different recycling bins. Newport Beach City Council takes everything away and recycles it. Apparently there’s a big conveyor belt which it all gets dumped onto and sorted. I’d like to think this is more productive as they look through the rubbish and take as much as they can and maybe do a better job. Having been trained to place everything into different categories for recycling, it now feels very strange to put everything into one bin.
The other side of this is that we get people constantly going through our bins looking for items to be recycled. It’s heartbreaking. Families spend their weekends rummaging through all the bins collecting cans and bottles. My neighbour gets cross with them and claims they’re stealing from the city. I can’t get cross. If you need to take your family around, including young children, riffling through filthy rubbish bins, take as much as you need. There needs to be a better way to help. I try and separate out my recyclables so that they don’t need to dig through our rubbish, but they still open the bags, just in case there’s something in there. They don’t realize I’ve gone to the trouble of separating it out for them."
I only mention these blogs as it has served as a wake up call for me. Just because there are no recycling bins or recycling pick ups, does not mean that there is no recycling. So, I'm widening my pledge to include doing more recycling and to get back into sorting out our rubbish. There is a chance I can reclaim my Sunday lie-in after all.