It’s between lunch and dinner, so I’m going to step away from food- just for a sec. So, let’s focus on the other end of food production: that being waste.
One of the few books I’m in the middle of reading right now is Anna Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Hot Planet, which sites source after source of how the global food system is even ahead of fossil fuels as a contributor to global warming, particularly with East Asia becoming more and more Westernized in their living and eating habits.
It’s not just about trying to eat locally, either, though that’s a big part of it. It’s the other end of your meals that you don’t think of- literally, the other end: Waste. The disposal, treatment, and reusage (or, lack of reusage?) is detrimental to the planet not only due to improper storage and space needed for waste processing, but also for the tons of gases that waste products are emitted into the air each year.
Garbage collection is a topic that is much larger than I’d like to tackle in this one post. Recycling is another, and composting food waste, well that’s a few more posts, too.
So how do I come to think of an issue like this when I’m visiting another city? Well, walking back from dinner the other night, there was a cluster of of people standing on the street corner, all staring in one direction. Naturally, I thought they were waiting for a bus. But my Uncle, who pointed them out to me in the first place, asked me to take notice of the bags in each person’s hand- and revealed to me that they were actually waiting for the Garbage Man.
The Garbage Man comes everyday of the week (save Wednesdays) at a scheduled time, which will depend on what street corner is closest to your home. On our corner, we hear the prompt 8:40pm whistle that sounds more like a cell phone alert (really, this truck plays für elise) than any garbage truck I’m familiar with. Residents of Taiwan come out of their tiny apartment buildings like a scatter of cockroaches- all heading towards the rear of the truck with their sorted garbage- plastics, paper, garbage, and most exciting of all- food waste.
Yup, compost. The city has set up a legit compost collection service in addition to regular garbage and recyclables. Where the regular garbage (and recycling) are thrown into the back of trucks, the compost is emptied out into storage tubs, ones that look very similar to the plastic cylindrical garbage cans we have back at home. What is thrown away as actual garbage- sans compostables and recyclables, is only a fraction of the waste a home produces.
I couldn’t help think back to the book that is sitting on my nightstand back home. And though I don’t know much about the disposal process other than what was seen on the street that day, I’d say it’s a pretty good step in the right direction. Now, if we could do something about all those KFC’s in Asia…