Next time you’re in Taiwan, be sure to keep a listen out for the ice-cream truck that goes singing in its catchy high-pitch tune as it circles the streets. Except it does not sell ice-cream at all – it collects the recyclable trash from the bins.

If there is one thing you must praise about the Taiwanese,( other than their bubble tea and that they practically invented street food 夜市) it is their recycling culture. The trash in Taiwan are well-sorted in to their respective materials meant for recycling. Even recyclable trash is given a name with a nice ring to it, “資源回收”; which translates to “Resource Collection”.

Check out this thread I received the other day from a chat group! 

These four belong to a 30 days challenge that I could only hope to accomplish. They range from bringing your own utensils for meals, to ditching the straw when purchasing a drink. Such themes are everywhere in Taiwan, and it is heartening to see it becoming a norm. If I hadn’t seen it for real, this act of sorting trash would have looked overly tedious and worse of all, awkward. Why awkward, you ask? Imagine spending that extra time clearing your MacDonald’s leftovers and packaging into their food waste, plastics, and paper categories. Now imagine it in Singapore, with a Singaporean too busy to wait queueing behind you.

It is tempting to think that they had it long before, and thus established such a system as robustly as it is.

Then, I was told otherwise the other day. Apparently, recycle was not a common theme in Taiwan only until recently, in a matter of at a most 2 years.

With the Taiwanese battling hard at environmentalist efforts, it gives me a rethink of the Singapore pride of being “clean and green”. Perhaps proclaiming “clean” is one thing, “green” an entirely different other.

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