Cultural Musings · Korea

Beating a dead horse…

Ok, I’ve still got recycling on the brain.  This whole issue really has me perplexed.  A trip to the dumpster the other day informed me of my rights and duties as a trash-dumping resident of Dong Bu Apts.  There is a sign posted in English, for those of us Americans who live here and like to make our own rules.  The main message was you MUST dump your garbage in the specially appointed trash bags obtained at your local Korean grocery store.  If caught using another type of bag you can be fined up to 300,000 Won or $300 USD.  Interested in this garbage bag monopoly I asked Ally why residents had to use the designated bags.  What about brand loyalty?  I prefer the Hefty Cinch Sak and now all my Hefty coupons are worthless pieces of paper.  She told me that Korea stipulates the use of the “expensive” garbage bags so people don’t buy so many bags, thus cutting down on the amount of garbage thrown out and not recycled properly.  Makes sense but I thought, “that can’t possibly deter people from throwing out garbage.”  Ally made reference to the bags being pricey and I thought, “they’re garbage bags, how expensive can they be?”  A trip to the local market tonight left me flabbergasted.  I bought two yogurts, a box of cookies and a package of white garbage bags for the trash and orange ones for food waste.  My bill was 24,000 Won, roughly $26.  Were those expensive gold-rimmed cookies you ask?  No, a package of twenty 20-liter garbage bags costs $10.  No wonder they keep them behind the counter with the cigarettes and booze.  I wonder if there is a black market for garbage bags here?  If I go into a counterfeit purse store and ask to see the garbage bag collection will they take me past the fake Coach and LV bags and show me the knockoff garbage bags?

Here is a picture of my “luxury” garbage bags.  Ally was right, expensive bags do make you think about what you are putting in them.  Before throwing anything away, I now ask, “is that special enough to go in the expensive bag or can I throw it in the $3.50 laundry basket on the back porch destined for the recycling bin.  It’s a high honor to go in the trash.  Tissues and Q-tips, you should feel proud!

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4 thoughts on “Beating a dead horse…

  1. korea has serious problems with trash. it is so bad that there are practically no public garbage receptacles anywhere in the city of seoul. thus the casual littering and treating the streets themselves like a dumpster.

    throwing away one’s trash should be a basic right and not a privilege to be bought. figure it out with taxes or whatever, but don’t transfer such a ridiculous cost to the end customer.

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