Mountains of Waste


After you drink a can of soda, where do you put the can? In the recycling bin or in the trash? Do you know where it goes after that? In Seattle, waste is generally sortable into three categories: compost, recycling and trash. Composting and recycling allows a big portion of our waste to be reused in an environmentally-friendly way. During my journey, I have noticed that where I would have seen three different waste bins in Seattle, Thailand usually only has one waste bin. This means that all of our waste products go to one location: the landfill.

What community need did I learn about?:

It was 7:00 PM on a Wednesday in Khon Kaen and my friend and co-fellow Celeste and I were hungry. We decided to go to the market to buy a meal. We were in a hurry, so we had to get our food to go. I ordered some noodles, an apple and a few cookies for dessert. Celeste bought soup, a smoothie and a couple rice snacks. We returned to our office and ate our meal, but once we finished we noticed something interesting. Each part of the meal, from the soup to the apple, came with its own plastic bag, with some bags fitted into bigger plastic bags. The two of us sat at the table, stomachs full, with eight small plastic bags strewn about us. This points to a big problem: too much waste.

A separate but closely related problem is that there are nearly no recycling receptacles in the city of Khon Kaen.