Cleaning up Italy’s garbage

As a foreigner Italy’s garbage disposal procedure can be annoying, confronting and at times down-right stinky.

When confronted with the idea of having to walk my household garbage down the street to the nearest garbage bins I was immediately taken a back. The thought of parading my garbage across the piazza for all to see and assess was a little overwhelming. That was my feeling several years ago anyway, when I first moved to Florence.

Fast-forward a few years and I’m now so comfortable with it, in fact I advocate it. To have to be responsible for one’s own garbage makes you more aware and accountable for what you are throwing away.

Here on the Ligurian coast they’ve taken things a step further and there are swipe-card-access bins for rubbish. It’s a serious – albeit, sometimes confusing – affair with allocated times and allocated bins for the sorting and disposal of household waste.

There are bins for paper, plastic, glass, aluminium, organic and what is known as ‘rifiuti indifferenziati’, basically everything else. Essentially the idea is to minimise the ‘everything else’ and encourage more recycling.

I have to admit it works, I’m proud to say my ‘everything else’ rubbish is much less than it used to be. And that’s with a toilet-training toddler still sporting the overnight nappy!

I’m constantly surprised by the things that I could have been recycling all along and didn’t think of before. Breakfast cereal plastic bags and not just the cardboard box, for example. Our local coop supermarket packaging is great as it marks on the pack exactly where to throw all of the packaging.

Additionally when your garbage is well sorted and you’re being environmentally responsible that weekly walk to the bins is slightly less daunting. The smaller the grey bag the happier the environment.

Australia’s recycling efforts and personal garbage accountability is embarrassing in comparison.

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