John and I do our best to minimize consumption and waste. At our home in Oregon, we recycle, we compost, and we repurpose. It's pretty easy. But when you live on a boat you become more aware of how much trash and recycling you create because you have to live with it until you arrive at a port. If that port is in a rural community or a foreign country, recycling may not be an option and therefore the recycling just becomes trash. Insert sad face.
Through our travels there have been a few BIG thought provoking moments. For instance, I was appalled that the Municipal Marina in Port Angeles, WA did not have recycling; they're neighbors to a National Park after all. In La Paz, Mexico, our marina had recycling bins but when they dump the bins they were co-mingled with the rest of the bins (aka trash). In the town of Loreto, Mexico we awoke one morning to the unmistakable smell of burning trash, and that trash most definitely included plastics.
I have found places that will take my plastics and aluminum in Mexico, but I have to backpack them to separate locations. It's worth it to me though. On these walks I started thinking that if places don't have the capacity to deal with recycling then residents need to come up with other options. I am talking about things beyond bringing your reusable shopping bags to the store. I am talking about things like choosing the packaging that you will allow yourself to purchase. For instance, I became a big fan of Topo Chico, a mineral water in Mexico. In most places, it comes in a plastic bottle though. So despite my love of this beverage I have chosen not to drink it. Most of the time;)
The thoughts keep coming. Even if there is the option to recycle, wouldn't it just be better to cut back? After all, recycling takes energy via transportation and processing. I think it's too easy to think that if we recycle we aren't creating 'waste'. Trust me, I am by no means perfect on this matter. I am doing my best though and I plan to think about it, practice better habits, ask questions, and observe as I travel.
Thanks for listening to my rant! National Geo has a sad photo montage about plastic use is the world, click here if you care.