There is much talk about going green and being eco-friendly in the context of recycling and as much as people are aware that it’s ‘good’ to go green, this campaign talks about a more distant future and lacks the immediacy which would appeal to more myopic and self-focused beings such as ourselves.

We complain about the air being polluted and epidemics going around–even if it is as common place as the cold or the flu, yet we continue to dispose of our waste unthinkingly, knowing that the lower echelons of society would be going through the trash bins and exposing themselves to the rotting food and bacteria just to salvage some recyclables (bottles, plastics, paper) which they can sell.

We are inconsiderate of what happens to our rubbish after it has been removed from our premises and we think that it would not affect us in any solid way except for perhaps some flooding which happens every few weeks or months due to the clogged sewers and yet we have become so immune to this that we don’t think of it as our problem or even so, it’s always the responsibility if the city government.

It is precisely this sort of thinking which escalates the problem and it manifests more concretely as disease which we complain about should our loved ones especially our children get sick from contagious viruses even as ubiquitous as the common cold or flu.

If we just took a few minutes to think about it and think back to the people we see around the neighbourhood or the city scouring the rubbish for what items they can sell for a pittance, disregarding the risk to their health… We can further realise that these people wander around quite a bit and do come in contact with many people on the street in many parts of the Metro and whatever bacteria or virus they might have come across can easily be transmitted to the commuters and pedestrians who may happen to be neighbours or relatives with people we come across daily or even just randomly in malls and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how disease spreads and affects us.

Granted, it may not be the Ebola virus but anyone who has had their schedules altered or their body debilitated even for a few days by the common sore throat, flu or cold will agree that it is not a pleasant experience, adding to the fact that it is even more unpleasant to watch our housemates or family catch these common illnesses after we do.

It’s not to say that vitamin C and B-complex will not help boost our immune systems, but when we are more responsible with disposing our rubbish and recyclables, we create less causes for disease to spread. We cannot prevent people from going through the rubbish because poverty is quite rampant here and the few pesos they get from selling the bottles, plastic, or paper might mean the survival of their families.

What we can do is to rinse out used sardine/tuna/canned goods cans, plastic containers, and bottles, let them dry on our dish racks and then place them in a designates big black (or whatever coloured) garbage bag together with empty medicine bottles, boxes, paperbags, paper leaflets, newspapers which can be recycled too and give it to people in the neighbourhood who would benefit from selling them.

It can be as simple as selling the recyclables at the local junk shop, or of we are feeling more altruistic, I’m sure we know people in the neighbourhood who would be willing to take the clean recyclables and sell them.

We need not be insensitive to the others while we help them. It is not considerate to think that they will be selling it so it’s their responsibility to deal with the almost decayed food or unhygienic possibly recyclable garbage after they have been unthinkingly mixed with biodegradables since they would be accessing the rubbish long after the waste items are fresh.

They are fellow human beings too and deserve our consideration, but if this line of reasoning does not appeal to our more self-centered fellow human beings, then the health scare and possible diseases to be communicated should be enough reason for everyone to hygienically recycle and separate their recyclables from the biodegradables.

Properly cleaning, drying, separating, and disposing recyclable materials is in your best self-interest. (Benefitting others by preventing the spread of disease is a good bonus/motivation). Start doing it now–today.

(c) Niconica 2012

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