Sunday, January 20, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

If there was one thing I learned growing up in the Northwest, it was to recycle. From a young age I was taught to put cans, paper and glass among other things into the big blue bin. As I’ve gotten older, I feel as though I’ve taken this routine to another level. Oddly enough I’ll find myself get very irritated or upset when I see a pop can in the garbage or perfectly good paper thrown in the trash. Why is it so difficult to hold onto something until you get home or place it in the proper dispenser? I’m no tree-hugging hippie, but I am very protective of the environment. It was here before us, so we should treat it with respect! If people are ignorant enough to throw their trash or recyclables wherever they want whenever they want, pretty soon our planet is not going to be such a nice to place to live.

Not knowing a whole lot about Seattle before moving there, I remember wondering what the city’s take would be on recycling. To my delight, I found Seattle’s ideals were almost identical to BC’s. It didn’t hurt that one of my roommates was more of an environmentalist than me, making sure everyone in our house followed the recycling rules. I remember when Kelly tore out a magazine page highlighting everything that could and could not be recycled. This page was posted on the wall above 3 different bins: paper, plastic and glass. Trust me when I say I’m pretty sure we recycled everything that was recyclable. And don’t forget to take the caps off those pop bottles before putting them in the plastics bin, because Kelly would be on you! Living in the 5556 only fueled my desire to recycle anything and everything I could. Recycling makes me happy and allows me to believe I’m doing my part. Friends have poked fun, but don’t be shocked if you see me picking something out of the garbage or collecting a random beer bottle on the street. I’m not extreme enough to rummage through the trash like a bag lady, but if I see something at arms length, I’m going in!

Of course when moving to Finland, the last thing on my mind was recycling. I was too busy worrying about what my teammates would be like, where I would be living, what I was going to eat and how I was going to get around. After a couple of weeks adjusting to everyday life in Scandinavia, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the country is very concerned about the well being of our planet. While shopping at the grocery store, or any food/beverage type store, I found I needed to bring my own bags. If I didn’t, I’d find myself carrying out my purchases or paying, yes paying for grocery bags. They don’t set you back much (.20/bag), but if you think of how many times you shop during the week and how many bags you’re buying, it adds up. Though something small, this great idea encourages people to reduce and reuse. Every little thing helps! On the West Coast we put most of our recyclables into a specific bin, but packaging and other miscellaneous material that often is recyclable (i.e. cardboard boxes our tube of toothpaste comes in) frequently get thrown in the trash. Here in Finland, everything that can be recycled is. If it’s cardboard, it better be sorted into that pile – not the garbage. When your collection at home is getting too large and it’s time to dispose of your trash and recycling, you simply walk to an enclosed building that has 10+ labeled bins. Paper, plastic, glass, cardboard, cans, metals, etc. Once you start tossing all your ‘garbage’ in the correct bins, you find you have very little actual waste. It’s great, and makes you feel as though you really are doing your part. The great thing is that the majority of Finns follow these strict rules. I’m not familiar enough with the system to know if there are any reprimands for not following disposal instructions, but most people seem to do what they're suppose to when comes to garbage. Food here is disposed of in a different way too. When eating at a cafeteria, restaurant, café, etc and there is left over food on your plate, you don’t dump it in the trash. Instead, you scrape it into a labeled bin or bucket. I find this a little extreme and kind of disgusting. Nevertheless, this excess food is apparently put into compost and used as fertilizer on farms or fed to animals. Not to gross anyone out, but things like meat should not be fed to animals or used as compost…

Besides recycling any way they can, Finnish people are doing other great things to preserve our environment. Almost all cars here are compact, and I have yet to see a SUV roaring down the street. I’d guesstimate that 90+% of the cars are driven standard, which is better for the environment. As I discussed in last weeks post, a large percentage of people bike everywhere, also cutting down on pollution. Even some of the clothing I see people wear looks recycled…I swear some of the t-shirts, shorts, running shoes and winter jackets I’ve seen here look as though they are straight from the 1980s! Haha… Additionally, washing machines and refrigerators are compact, with dishwashers and dryers being non-existent. Europe is not messing around. Interestingly enough, the amount of flyers we receive in the mail seems to counteract all the recycling, as it's close to 20 each day!

Along with recycling what we can, Charlee, Liz and I have become obsessed with collecting bottles while living in Jyväskylä. A bit strange, I know, but when a pop bottle is worth .20-.35 cents each, a large collection brings in some nice gawp. We use this money for going out or paying for necessities like laundry detergent. If we’re at the gym and see 3 empties on the sideline - it's go time! We’re pretty slick, with one of us acting as the cover/distraction while another goes in for the swipe. The third has her backpack open and ready to complete the mission. It’s a great system. Aside from recycling, we are also profiting with almost 20+ Euros collected from our little obsession!

On a completely different note, last weekend was rough one for our team as we played the two best teams in the league back to back Saturday(away)/Sunday(home). With sore bodies and bruised egos, it was time to enjoy ourselves. Oddly enough the 3 of us, Monty (our men’s player), Piia (Finnish teammate) and Tuukaa (men’s player) ended up meeting and going out with 2 American girls and an American guy from the rival city 30 minutes away. It was weird at first; I mean these are our enemies on the court! Nonetheless, after chatting about home, university and basketball among other things, we became fast friends. Even though we may of never hung out together if in the US or Canada, Finland brought us together. It was an awesome evening, allowing the 7 of us feel as though we were back at home. I’m sure all the Finnish people in the club thought we were crazy when Alicia Keys’ song No One came on, (one of the only English songs they played that night) as we all sung (screamed) the song at the top of our lungs! We have another rendez-vous played for next Saturday night…

We won our game this week and are now in the hunt for playoffs. And you know what? I think we’re going to make it…

-BW

Sidenote: I’m sorry if I offended any of my fellow Canadians in my last post. Alas, I have been informed that people from BC don’t know how to survive a real winter ☺

3 comments:

Sauce said...

Omg!!! Our recycling system is the best!! We are here to collect so dont play us for our gwap!!! Yea!! And the recycled shirts....yes Bre!! We need to ask Laura where to cop some of those because they are classic!!

Crystal said...

I love your blog..Its so awesome and I so agree with the whole "reduce, reuse, recycle" like that so rocks and more people should do it. I like your statement about your "GWAP" lol..get em'bre...Well you are an awesome writer and you have inspired me to create my own blog as well...Holleeerrrr

Juba said...

Moi tyttö, it's me the newest fan of your blog.. You ladies keep on suprising me with all the grazy stories like collecting bottles at the gym!! And yep I think the average finnish people are recycling well, but there are also some people who don't seem to care that much. :/