Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Italy Recycles - A Lot

Unusually warm, calm day - I'll take it.

I wasn't in Italy nearly long enough but the days were packed and wonderful. I did have the chance to go to several different cities and was pleasantly surprised to see that, not only did they manage their recycling well, but it seemed to be quite consistent in all the places we visited.

Every city or village I went to seemed to have a well established recycling program that was mostly in the form of designated banks of recycling totes or large bins. It seemed that it was the responsibility of each person to take care of their own waste and take a hike to the bins. In Bologna, every one to three blocks had a row of 3 to six bins that were designated paper, metal, glass, (okay so lots of wine bottles) plastic, trash and/or compost. Yes, that's right, compost. One big huge bin, as large as the others, labeled "organici". Including international symbols for "No Dairy and No Fats", which was no small feet.

Where the heck did this compost go? I hope they actually do compost it or send it to a local pig farm. It was pretty impressive either way.

What was truly amazing was where all these bins were located. So in downtown Florence, it was to be expected but the shocker was our Cinque Terra hike along the Mediterranean. This was a remote area along the west coast accessible best by train. The villages were difficult to get to, a couple were down right sitting on top of cliffs. So out in the middle of no where, down narrow very steep curvy streets were banks of recycling bins. I was hard pressed to imagine what type of vehicle could even get to them, let alone empty them. Check out the photo looking down a steep hill side. I was impressed.

The train stations were well equipped with recycling bins, nice round brightly colored ones, very modern with 3 choices. The bags were clear which apparently causes some controversy all over (not very nice looking, like laundry you know) but when people can see through the bag to the other items in the bag, the dumper are more likely to get it right.

My daughter and her roommates were keeping their plastic bottles until further notice since in the heart of ancient Florence, bins are a little bit harder to come by. Indeed, lack of sidewalks, lack of width of roads is a major issue. But at least they were mindful of recycling. I hope they find a place soon.

By the way, November 15th is America Recycles Day. I thought I might mention it now in case you want to plan something for it. We have much to do as a Nation in this department. We waste WAY too much. Seeing other countries' efforts is a reminder that we all too often have too many excuses to do something as easy and as important as recycling.

What have you recycled today?

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