Lotus at Sarcastic Mom has issued a challenge: What small (or big) thing can you do to help clean up the Earth? What are you already doing? All this started after a walk through her neighborhood where she saw trash thrown all over and was disgusted in the ability of humanity to wallow in our own filth. So what am I doing? Nothing extraordinary, I keep lights turned off, pick up trash on my evening walk, I don't do styrofoam, and I (try to) teach my boys not to litter, we even wrap (almost) all our presents in newspaper. The new thing I am doing is using reusable shopping bags for trips to the grocery store. OK, I admit I am moving to Germany this summer and plastic shopping bags cost money in Germany. I might as well get into the habit now because I know I am not paying money for a plastic shopping bag!
Trash is a huge issue here in Jakarta. During rainy season last year the flooding was compounded by trash dams blocking the river flow causing it to jump its banks and flooding some of the poorest areas. We are talking a city where the term "trash-picker" isn't just an insult, it is a profession.(Yes, people live in those houses, trash is just a by product.)
There are somewhere between 350,000 and 450,000 trash pickers in Jakarta. These people don't just collect the garbage, they go through it, piece by piece, looking for things that can be resold for money or reused to make life easier. The average trash-picker makes around $30 a month. (This isn't a living wage here, either.) They have a very difficult life. This is a picture of a trashpickers kampung (compound or village) near my house. I walk by it on the way to the shopping mall all the time. It never fails to remind me how lucky I am.
So, you may ask, what does my over-privileged self have to do with Jakarta's trash picker's? And what do they have to do with saving the Earth? Maybe you are even asking how you can help? Well, there is a yayasan (charity) organization that manages to combine both helping people and helping the environment. XSProject uses the refuse collected by trash pickers to create these really cool shopping bags (and lunch boxes, wallets, coupon sorters, even laptop bags) and each item carries the tag you see at the top of this blog entry: This product made from garbage collected by Jakarta's trash-pickers. The bags are really sturdy and colorful. If you haven't made the switch to reusable grocery bags this is the time (even if you don't use these bags find some reusable alternative to all that plastic, please!). The XSProject bags are available for order online and the profits go to help the trash-pickers of Jakarta. Click here if your in the US, click here if you are someplace else. You can check out their ongoing progress at XSProject blog.
I am climbing down off my soapbox now. Time to to go play with the rugrat. Have a good day and don't forget to take time to smell the roses and hug a tree!