23 March 2010

to protect our earth for us

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about this post and this follow-up post by KC, and this post by Lucia; both discuss the trash issues of the South.   I've read and listened and read and listened . . . .and I still can't quite understand this.  As an outsider, I likely never will truly comprehend.  It's complicated.

In thinking about it, I also continue to make the natural comparison of the trash differences between the North and South.  It's just been on my mind, a lot.  When I lived in the South, I didn't focus my energies on the trash so much; the people who couldn't see past it to the true beauty were generally pretty miserable and unhappy folks.   I also encounter this with friends who travel there: love or hate with not much room for anything in between.

Yesterday when I picked the Young One up from asilo, she eagerly offered up what they were up to all day:  recycling!  They taught her how to separate trash;  she even knows the COLORS of the different bins for each type of item.  She went on for nearly ten minutes about recycling, and when we saw the sign for the traffic circle, she identified it as one for recycling. (They do look alike!)   We separate somewhat religiously at home, but evidently have failed to explain it as this recycling concept was new to her.

Then I asked her the big top-of-the-Bloom's-chart question:  "Do you know why it's important to recycle?"  She replied:  "To protect our Earth for us. Is that restaurant Japanese or Chinese? What if all the world could talk the same language? Please put on song #10." And that's where the conversation ended, with the Black Eyed Peas blaring in the wagon. That's what I get for asking a "thinking" question.

There was hardly a trash bin, muchless color-coded recycling receptacles, near my house in Pozzuoli, and those we did have were often overflowing  Recycle?  Huh?   Now my five-year-old daughter is likely to become the recycling enforcer because of what she learned from Italian adults at school!   Complicated, you see!

It's like living in another country.


  1. It is another country.

    The point you make about how the people who focused about the trash were miserable is an important one...

    Who wants to be miserable? Who wants to worry about how the Camorra have dumped toxic waste throughout the countryside? What mother wants to wonder if she's feeding her child the toxic fruit of the environmental disaster all around her?

    (Seriously, the trash that we see is just the tip of the iceberg, and that is why it drives me nuts when tourists say things like, oh no, you have to focus on the positive, on the beautiful, it's best to ignore the trash, etc. Hello! The trash isn't actually the problem, it's the symptom of something far more nefarious. And that's why no one should ever ignore it.)

    There is a part of me that wishes that I could bury my head in the sand the way nearly everyone around me seems to do. But I just can't. So I choose to be miserable and notice the trash.

    BTW, they've since started recycling down here, though I've heard that in some places the program isn't very successful, as people just dump whatever into the different bins. We actually have door to door collection here and it works pretty well. But we tend not to be affected when there's a crisis in Naples or Capua. We are pretty fortunate, despite the littering and neglect of public spaces here...it could be much worse.

    (Okay, that was longer than I thought, and I have no idea if it makes sense because I am sleep-deprived, Pata is sick and not sleeping well...)

  2. Okay, I've just reread that after having benefited from a hot shower, and I hope you don't think I directing my anger at you...that was quite a rant I wrote! Obviously I feel very passionately about this issue. :)

  3. No offense taken. Rant away! It's a busy evening & my husband is away this week -- I'll have to respond later this week. Hope Pata is feeling better and you got (or get) a nap.

  4. Dana, does it ever remind you of South Louisiana? Horrible to say but part of this trash issue brings back memories of pick-up trucks full of garbage flying around, people tossing to-go cups out the window when done, and country roads with unofficial dumps. I think things have improved in the past few years and that gives me hope, but I do remember going away to school in Virginia and being surprised by how clean it all seemed. Very glad to hear your daughter is learning about recycling in school...that's also hopeful. KC, I hear your points loud and clear and I do agree with them...something needs to be done, here in Italy and across the globe. Just such an overwhelming issue. All I can do right now is continue to pick up litter when we see it on playgrounds, teach my children, and perhaps start talking with my Italian friends about it. Wish I had the energy/drive to do more but feels too overwhelming especially here in Sicily where garbage and corruption seem to live hand in hand. Quite a messy situation.