Friday, 17 June 2016

How Green Is My Sharjah?

The unthinkable has happened. The old battered dumpsters that used to line our sandy street have disappeared, each one replaced by two shiny new plastic bins. One is marked 'General waste' and one 'Recyclable waste'.

I quite miss our old one. Some expat anarchist had sprayed 'Green Day' on it:

Well, 'green day' is finally upon us! Sharjah's upped its green act with waste management company Bee'ah, with a goal of 'zero to landfill' being the stated aim. The new bins aren't the only sign of change around here: for years an integrated waste management policy has been rolled out with thousands of staff litter-picking, bin emptying, street cleaning and waste segregating. It's taken its time, but that tremendous effort has finally reached our street.

It's the end of an era.

We used to go visiting friends and family in the UK, our hosts dancing after us and correcting our bin-using habits. This goes in the green bin, that goes in the orange bag, this goes in the black bag, that goes in the green tray: depending on where you were in the country, the recycling regimen would change, but generally people are in the habit of segregating waste into organics, recyclables, bottles and general waste. They always seem to fill the bottle baskets when we're with them, but that's probably just because they're pleased to see us.

Of course, we've always just had the dumpster. Our waste segregation regimen has generally been pretty much 'throw out stuff'. That includes broken office chairs, broken shower curtain poles. Anything. Just lay it by the dumpster and hey presto! it's gone. Actually, the bin men often don't get to the larger stuff, there's always some opportunist who's got an eye out and larger items generally don't stick around beside the dumpster for longer than an hour or so. The record was a broken office desk we chucked out a few years back: it was gone within ten minutes.

So now we've joined the ranks of the responsible: a second bag in the kitchen is devoted to plastic, cardboard and tins. We're actually becoming civilised. Wherever will it end?

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