By Angelique Rosa-Marín
My experience has been very disappointing in terms of people being aware of the actual environment situation, but Australia surprised me! People around here seem concerned about our environmental issues in such a way that their daily practices reflect their awareness.
Let’s start with their recycling system... They have a particular categorization method. The trash needs to be classified into three different bins: a yellow-lid bin is for any paper, aluminum, glass, and some plastic items (general recycle items), a red-lid container is for all potential landfill materials, meanwhile, the green-lid bin for all the organics. But the best part of all this is? People strictly follow recycling methods EVERYWHERE! On-campus, business places, houses, and even on the streets.
Example of houses’ green-red-yellow-bin recycling containers.
Every store offers you non-plastic options, reusable plates, cups, and utensils. Also, it is “normal” that people bring and carry with their own appliances. I emphasize “normal” because back home when I enter a coffee shop with my reusable cup, my bamboo utensils, my own straw...I can sense people’s weird looks over my shoulder. Not to mention when I reject plastic cups, as an example; and I ask the cashier: “I have my own reusable mug; can my coffee be served in there?” The gazes increase! At some point, I began feeling like an alien! People back home can recognize what is happening with our planet, but they don’t really implement any practices or explore ways to decrease waste.
For me, it is “normal” to practice reusable ways to decrease waste. I don’t live in the non-aliens’ heads to know why they react a certain way when they witness my sustainable ways. But that is the point; it shouldn’t provoke ANY reaction! We should be more conscious of the benefits of an environmental lifestyle. I believe it should be an almost mandatory way of life. Taking care of our world should be a given, not an option.
Now, living in Australia and every day noticing people doing something for our planet delights me! Seeing people taking their time in front of the recycling bins classifying their trash is a majestic sensation! There is hope! I am in a place where I don’t feel like the "eco-weirdo". A place where people’s opinions and let's say "looks" (not sure yet what they are thinking) about my ecological actions are not questionable. Staying in a place where my lifestyle is considered “normal” brings me comfort and makes me feel at home.