I don’t really consider the Caribbean island I reside on to be a “developing country” (though I’m actually not quite sure how the ‘”developing” status is allocated), however, unlike the developing world, recycling is considered a foreign word and dropping litter is not frowned upon here. Dropping bottles in the sea is, in fact, justified because apparently “it makes the sea richer”.
I simply can’t tolerate litter bugs. The Rasta Man used to drop litter until I introduced an Anti-Litter Law into our relationship. Initially, if I did something that annoyed him, he would look me in the eye and then toss an empty beer bottle into the distance. I would then frantically scamper after it like a dog and retrieve it. Fortunately, it turns out that the Rasta Man can’t tolerate women behaving like dogs, so he now diligently deposits all his litter in my car.
If people choose not to recycle (when the option to do so exists), I am less militant. I just think they are weird. I love recycling. It keeps me sane by satisfying my O.C.D. tendencies for compartmentalisation and keeping like with like; the environmental benefits are simply an added bonus.
Now while I believe litter bugging is all about up-bringing (yes, I blame the parents entirely), recycling is all about the economy and government. Setting up recycling plants and systems involves a considerable amount of money. But while a small island struggling with garbage disposal would clearly benefit greatly, it seems that the government simply can’t line their own pockets with dollars AND allocate money from the budget for recycling. Even still, environmental concerns and initiatives are creeping into local society.
The other day, I was at the store. I can’t really call it a supermarket as it only has 3 aisles, but it does sell everything. I reached the check-out with my shopping basket filled to the brim and a small pile of overflow at my feet. The cashier started to ring it all up, creating a chaotic pile between us. There were no bags on the stand, so I asked for some. Without making eye contact or stopping her diligent scanning, she pointed to a sign on the wall. I forget the exact words, but the gist was “we no longer give out bags, we are helping to save the environment“. Hoorah!! I asked if I could buy a bag, anticipating that they would now be selling Eco-Bags or some kind of re-usable plastic bag. The cashier turned and looked extremely vexed as she said very slowly, “We don’t have bags anymore” and again pointed at the sign. I asked how I was supposed to get my shopping to my litter-filled car. She shrugged and looked at me blankly.
As with so many things over here, it was a “nearly but not quite” situation. They almost pulled it off. If they had offered to sell me a bag for $5, even $10, even more, I would have trotted home with a smile on my face, impressed by these signs of progress. But instead, I had no choice but to pile everything back into my shopping basket and heave it out to the car. I was going to unload everything directly into the car, but the idea of my shopping rolling around in the all the filth and detritus of my vehicle’s interior was simply not an option. So I put the basket in the car and drove off.
The Rasta Man has a sixth sense for when I have been to the store, so he swung by on his way home to visit my fridge. He saw the abandoned basket on the porch.
“Princess, why have you got a shopping basket on the porch?”
“It’s not a shopping basket. It’s my new Eco-Bag.”
“What’s an Eco-Bag?”