I currently live in an Eastern European country where conscious consumption and recycling is uncommon. For context,
- I am sometimes frown upon by the cashiers when coming to a grocery store with a reusable bag.
- Or when ordering coffee into a reusable cup, baristas may still try and make it into a single use cup, then pour the coffee into mine and just throw the used one away. When confronted, they would say “did it automatically, not used to someone ordering with their own cup".
- My neighbour was about to throw away a large bag of all kinds of expired medicines from 90s to recent (incl. antibiotics) into common waste bin (read: landfill).
Point is, nobody cares. Really.
I am decluttering and finding some new and never used household and personal care products that I don’t and won’t need.
According to the 5R’s of Recycling framework, I should:
- Refuse: not applicable as I already have them
- Reduce: not applicable for the same reason
- Reuse: give them away to someone who needs them
- Recycle: won’t work because these are almost always made of this sort of plastic that can’t be recycled locally
- Rot (landfill): the last resort when all else fails.
The twist is, if I give them away, most likely at some point later they will be unconsciously and irresponsibly thrown away into the common garbage which goes directly to landfill
While I can take them away now to a facility which will burn them down in a controlled environment. And then still take whatever remains to landfill.
For someone in my position, what would be the lesser evil option?
- I have learned my lesson and am not buying these anymore (and overall producing significantly less waste)
- I am considering, once the amount is enough, sorting and sending this to the closest EU country where they can re/up-cycle this kind of plastic; subject to research on whether reasonable
- Ideally, I should move myself out of this country for good