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Some thoughts on recycling, reusing, repairing.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Laura Scriven for this column.)

Prior to moving back to Chelsea a year ago last November, I spent almost 16 years living and working in South Korea.

When I first went to Korea I was shocked at the lack of recycling and amount of packaging for everything. It killed me to throw cardboard, glass jars, and tin cans into the trash. Everywhere I walked I saw things that should be recycled and it made me sad at the waste and the harm it was doing to the world I was living in.

As time went on, I started noticing things. Men and women in their 80s pulling old, modified bicycles piled high with metals, cardboard, or plastics. I felt so sad that people that age were working late into the night (usually after midnight) and working that hard. I started asking around; asking my Korean friends to please explain themselves and their culture. That is when I realized that Koreans do not throw as much away as I had thought.

I was told that in Korea culture, it was important to always keep busy. So, most retired people continued to work. Many people became taxi or bus drivers, security guards at apartment complexes, opened small corner markets, or sorted through garbage bags for useful and recyclable items.

Rather than sorting items into separate containers, items were piled up alongside the garbage bags and sorters would come throughout the night and collect what they needed.

Their pay? The value of the recycled materials. They are their own bosses, keeping their own hours, and doing a service to the community.

And, as time went on, I noticed more and more forms of recycling.

According to the International Energy Agency the carbon emissions for individuals living in South Korea average 11.5 metric tons of Co2 while the emissions per person in the U.S. averages 17.6 metric tons of Co2.

We both have a long way to go, so please do your part. Recycle. Reuse. Repair.

REMINDER: Please be careful about the items placed in the recycling bins. Time, money, and resources are wasted in sorting out the trash.

If you have questions about what is acceptable, please contact me through email at Laura Scriven at [email protected]


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