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Yes, You can Google Trash ...
I ended last week preaching about the importance of a curious mind. This week we will talk about some of the differences one observes when they immerse themselves in the local life. Why not start with trash?
I am certain it wasn’t always this way in the States. However, I don’t ever remember taking our garbage to a central spot. In my 67 years, I can’t recall a time when garbage trucks didn’t stop at each home on the block. As I got older, the trucks came more frequently. Instead of only coming once a week…they came twice. This seemed counter-intuitive. We now had garbage disposals in many homes…we should have had less (smelly) garbage to pick up. But of course, we didn’t.
And, I am old enough to remember the milkman. He delivered glass bottles of milk and took our prior week’s back to be washed and reused. And I recall going to a beer distributor with my father … picking up a case of Ballantine and leaving the empties behind. And get this … we actually drank water from the tap then, using a glass which we washed and then returned to the cabinet. Now everything we purchase is wrapped in 3 pounds of paper, waxy cardboard, and plastic. So, of course, we needed to add another truck for recycling day.
And to think, some people actually question whether humans have an impact on the planet. But I digress…
Welcome to Portugal
So when we came to Portugal we had to figure out how to deal with our trash and recycling. It turns out we could have “Googled it”. (Is there anything you can’t google?) But we didn’t. Instead, we observed the locals and attempted to follow suit.
If you have been following our journey you know we started in Estoril. At the top of our street were two garbage bins (which are pictured at the top of the page). At the bottom of our street were three recycling containers. By looking at the icons on each container we were able to quickly discern what went where. People did, from time to time, leave large items (e.g. a broken bed or old mattress) next to the container. And yes, this could look unsightly for a day or two…but then they seemed to disappear.
Of course, I did not retrieve my neighbors’ bags from the garbage bin to determine if they were dutifully following all of the recycling rules. I’m sure on at least one occasion, unsure where to put the milk carton…is it paper or plastic…they just squished it and put it in the garbage. But for the most part, it seems, people do utilize recycling containers. As we walked about we would often see cars pulling off the road, popping their trunk, and then emptying wine bottles into the green bin…plastic drink containers in the yellow, and … paper and cardboard in the blue.
Cascais is Fancy
When we moved into our temporary digs we found the same garbage bins across the street and recycling bins just around the corner. But I guess Cascais is sprucing things up. As we move around the city we find the old bins being replaced by the fancier ones you see above. They seemed small to me, so I lifted the lid and peered inside. The “can” is actually a chute to a huge, subterranean container. I can’t wait to see the contraption they use to empty each one. Hopefully, they don’t just dump everything into one truck!