01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Rubbish and recycling - door to door 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Rubbish and recycling - door to door


Still reeling a bit from a busy weekend including our sit down dinner for x30 in a tent, that became x40 (not sure that the caterers hauled in the fact that we had more people coming though and it was a bit of a case of FHB - 'family hold back' when it came to the food). It didn't rain thank goodness, but everyone ended up FREEZING and stuck outside as usual. More about that later perhaps...

In the meantime, in answer to recent comment re: recycling rubbish - I SHOULD use the Nakumatt (Kenyan big supermarket chain) 'recyclable fabric bags' but never seem to remember to bring them along on my shopping trips and would probably need to carry a few at a time as they are not very big. Good idea of the supermarket to produce them though, they are a bit like the designer Sainsbury's ones -but bright blue.

My larder/store is chock full of kikapus (woven grass baskets) that I get regularly from the local shop and keep meaning to return but don't get round to it. They often come in useful at home for ferrying firewood and dead leaves around the compound. For a couple of weeks I had a 'kikapu' in the back of my car to avoid plastic bags, but irritatingly it kept staying firmly in the boot, rather than coming with me into the shops. Shop owners are now recycling cardboard boxes for customers' shopping, which is perfect, but many things still do get packed into plastic. The local grocer tried plastic net bags, which didn't look very eco friendly anyway and turned out to 'age' the veggies more quickly. I gather the Kenyan plastic bag ban will come into force properly in January and we will all have to pull our socks up then.

I don't burn plastic in the garden or bury it as it seems a fairly primative thing to do and gives off terrible fumes, though this is still common practise. I do pay a local company to pick up our bin bags once a week and generally a few passers by rifle through the rubbish bag outside our gate before it gets picked up. Sometimes I am sitting in my 4x4 waiting for the gate to open (or rather be opened by our gardener) and I smile and wave at the poor guy with a wheel barrow - what must he think?!. I was horrified to see one of our chosen bin company's vans driving across the background of a Channel 4 documentory/expose by Aiden Hartley about Nairobi's inner city rubbish dumps, and throwing out bags - contributing to the problem. The rubbish collection companies have names like 'Bio bin' and 'Eco rubbish' but these are designed to ease the conciences of their customers - in fact, it all gets dumped on the nearest heap in town untreated and unsorted (except by those picking through by hand). No machinery is in evidence.

I am proud to say that since establishing our composting system, the amount of rubbish we throw out has reduced by almost half. All cardboard etc gets burned at home and I try (but need to try harder) to rinse out and sort recyclable pastic/metal containers into a seperate bag to make the poor rubbish scavengers job easier. Perhaps it would be more responsible to burn all our rubbish in the garden - thus sharing the Nairobi fumes out across the city than having them centralised in Dandora slum or wherever? Our youngest daughter is now out of plastic nappies, which makes me feel marginally less guilty now but the rubbish problem almost seems insurmountable at the moment. I suppose it's worth remembering that in Kenya most things are recycled several times and there is far less rubbish thrown out per capita than in the developed world (might just look up that statistic for you on Google).
See: Previous posts entitled: 'Nairobi's rubbish dumps' and 'Africa 'Recycling Kings!'

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