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Monday, June 20, 2011

Trash Cans? What Trash Cans?

One thing, that's really bugged me ever since I came to Korea.... and I was going to put this into a Love/Hate post if I ever get around to making one, but I got impatient, it still might.... is the lack of Trash Cans.

Anywhere you are in public, no trash cans. And this generalization counts for Seoul and Busan and I can say that I have looked and looked and looked and not found trash cans.
The one "Trash can" at a subway station in Seoul. Actually a cardboard box with a trashbag. But hey, I'm not complaining, it's somewhere to throw my trash. And I did. I threw away trash I had been carrying for hours due to the lack of trash cans. See how small it is? And it's empty? Either they just emptied this cardboard box, or no one else throws away their trash!

Now the reason this upsets me is because I'm a conscientious person and I prefer to throw away my trash rather then litter. 

From asking, here's what I've learned about the lack of Trash Cans in Korea (Busan and Seoul).
  1. There were some terrorist threats years ago (like mail bombs only trash bombs) and that's why there's no trash cans.
  2. The cities employee tons of elderly to go around and pick up litter, so they don't bother with trash cans
  3. The environmentally conscious citizens of Korea take their trash with them so they can sort it for recycling later.
I am a super lazy American. Because I hate the idea of holding onto my trash (ice-cream wrappers, soda bottles, coffee cups, etc) for any length of time. But I also can't bring myself to throw my trash on the ground for some poor old person to pick up, no matter if I'm helping them attain gainful employment or not.

As for sorting for recycling... I always considered myself to be not lazy in this regard. I will sort for recycling... Paper, plastic, metal and glass, right? Right???? Not in Korea, and because I can't read the signs (well, I can read them, I just don't know what those words mean)and I have to sort out the 10 different types of plastic at our apartment recycling center guessing based on what other people have done. That's right, there's like 50 different little bins and you have to put your recyclables into just the right one. Because God forbid I get something wrong, or appear to be getting something wrong (those crazy Miguks!!) because the old guy who is paid to sit there and straighten the area, and sort the unsorted, will come and yell at me! And has, several times!
This guy has it soooooo easy.

Funny story, while I'm ranting about the apartment recycling area: One time, Shannon and I went to recycle and throw away what trash we had. Including a bag of dirty kitty litter. Shannon was about to throw the kitty litter bag into the "garbage" area (2 very small bins reserved for true garbage) and the old guy starts yelling at him. Shannon, confused as to why he's being yelled at, pauses. The old guy comes up and tries to take away the dirty kitty litter bag... he goes to open it and Shannon and I both shout- "NO!, I mean... ANI-YO!! (korean no)". The old guy is still insisting on opening the bag, we keep saying Goyangi (Korean word for cat) and saying poop (we don't know the Korean word for poop). Finally, Shannon makes a gesture that I think is understandable world wide. He motions like there is poop coming out of his butt while saying Goyangi and making farting noises with his mouth. (LMAO!) The old guy gets it and backs off. Phew. In retrospect, we should've let him open it. For all the trouble they give us trying to recycle and trying to do the right thing.

Ok, back to trash cans. After discussing the lack of trash cans again last night, I decide to email the mayor of Busan and give him my opinion and idea. And to make the idea more valid, I acted like I was a tourist instead of an expat. Expats do not have the best reputation in Korea, probably due to all the young expats teaching.... they're young, they do what young people do... drink, party, otherwise make a ruckus.

Here's my letter to the Busan Mayor, short sweet and to the point. aka, very american. 
Dear Mayor,
We are greatly enjoying our visit to your beautiful coastal city, Busan. It's many beautiful sites incline us to recommend it as a vacation spot to any of our friends 
One recommendation / complaint we have is the lack of trash cans. When at Haeundae enjoying the ocean and the other beautiful sites, it's very distracting to have to hold onto our trash until we reach a coffee shop or some other place of business. 
I understand that Busan is a very environmentally conscious city, so I wanted to recommend Green Sort trash cans as used in the Atlanta International airport. 
These trash cans automatically sorts and compresses trash into easily recyclable packets. 
Having trash cans like these along Haeundae Beach would allow for ease of disposal, as well as display once again what a technologically advanced city Busan is. 
We're looking forward to our next visit already. 
Thank you,Kim and Shannon Conner.

I'd like to point out that my English seems to be getting worse since moving to Korea. It's hard to have good English when everyone around you speaks a foreign language or broken English. But the Mayor probably won't notice. He'll probably use Google Translate, which will garble it all up anyway.

I didn't LIE either, I just implied that we visited not often (tourists) as opposed to visited very often (we live here). I also realize that I'm becoming easily searchable on Google, so cross your fingers that he's not a Google wiz or a Google search of "Trash Cans" might lead him straight here.   <.<;;

Pretty good though right? Maybe I'll get something done around here. ;) j/j, but I'll let you know if I hear back from the Mayor or if Trash Cans suddenly appear along Haeundae Beach, or anywhere else for that matter!

Thanks Andy!

1 comment:

  1. Totally should have let the old man open the bag! Good luck with your Korean Trash Can Revolution!!!