By Nina Wu
The other day, I saw a guy diving into a dumpster for recyclable beverage containers from the back of a building.
On one hand, I'm glad to see someone taking recycling seriously, whether it was for street survival or out of the motivation to keep the containers out of the landfill (probably the former).
But it also is a reminder that a lot of people still toss bottles oh so carelessly into the trash. Look into any trash can on the sidewalk and you will see. The number one excuse I hear is — oh, some homeless person will pick them out and recycle them, anyways.
So here we go again with the three "R"s — reduce, reuse, recycle.
But maybe we need to also rethink, reframe and realize what happens when a plastic bottle gets tossed into the gutter. Where does it end up and what are the ramifications? And we need to take responsibility for that.
Whatever your opinion on the bottle bill was (get over it, because it's already been here several years and it's a reality), it seems as if our infrastructure for recycling could use some improvement.
What I mean by that is — recycling bins. Why don't we have recycling bins down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, at Kapiolani Park, beach parks (where we need them most), including Hanauma Bay (a marine preserve) and at major tourist stops like the Pali Lookout?
I suspect funding is an issue, but it should be a higher priority than it has been in the past for the city and state.
Without the infrastructure in place, you end up with people digging through the trash (if they care enough) to get to the recyclables.
That's why I was glad to see that Ko Olina Station, a new shopping center at Ko Olina Resort, of all places, had installed two recycling bins alongside its trash bins — with one side for aluminum and one for plastic (but what about glass? and paper?) It's a good start, setting an example for the West Oahu side.
If the city and state won't do anything about it, then at least private landowners and businesses can.
Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall has recycling bins as well, which is commendable, but unfortunately it doesn't seem as if they get good use, especially when hidden off to the side where no one sees them. At their salad bar and hot bar, they offer containers made of bulrush, which are compostable (but do they end up being composted? probably not. Just take a look in the trash can outside). Maybe if the recycling bins were more central to the outdoor seating area, people would see them.
Gaye Chan and Nandita Sharma of Eating in Public (nomoola.com), have devised their own system, by creating private HI-5 bins that have sprung up alongside public trash cans throughout Oahu.
They're simple, little baskets made of chicken wire with the HI-5 sign and their website on them.
People are welcome to "take, leave, whatevas..." through an honor system. They're also offering people bins or bin kits if you email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you set up some bins, they simply ask you to send their locations and photos so they can be added to their map. They'll also offer a bin-making workshop if you want.
Get creative. Rethink, realize and take responsibility for what happens to your waste stream. Find a way to recycle!