Here’s One Simple Thing You Can Do In Egypt To Help the Environment

10 months ago By Mona Bassel


Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of advice on how to help the environment, from unplugging appliances when we’re not using them to recycling our trash. In fact, Cairo now has its own recycling kiosks where you can drop off plastic, metal, paper or cardboard for recycling.


Credit: Egypt Independent


However, not everyone has the time to collect trash and make the long drive to Heliopolis to drop it off for recycling. But here’s the silver lining: you can still do your part to help the environment from the comfort of your own home.

Aside from the recycling kiosks, Cairo already has its own garbage district where trash collectors separate trash and sell it to make a living. Sounds ideal, right?

Not quite.

These trash collectors don’t collect the garbage to separate it in a factory or designated area –not all of them anyway.


Credit: ipsnews.net


What happens is that there are garbage “sorters” around the city whose job is to only collect inorganic garbage for recycling. They pass by large garbage bins, open up trash bags (sometimes in the middle of the street) and then collect bottles, paper, cans and whatever else they find; leaving organic trash (mostly food) behind. As a result, we oftentimes see organic waste left to rot on the street and we’re left with the disgusting sight and horrible smell.

Not long ago, organic trash was also collected and fed to pigs, but the swine flu scare had resulted in the mass killings of most of these pigs. The fact that this waste is burned and pollutes our air is still a major issue, but that’s not something mere citizens can change much right now.


Credit: vice.com


As a result of this unorthodox collection process, society looks down on those sorters and blames them for the garbage problem plaguing the streets. Whether or not the blame is rightfully aimed, this is not the time to point fingers; rather, it’s the time to take action.

Think about your trash and how many plastic water bottles, soda cans, candy wrappers or cigarette packs you use –each person has their own carbon footprint, and that’s something inevitable, especially in a city with insufficient formal recycling initiatives like Cairo.

Until the day comes when we see recycling bins around Cairo and a population with proper awareness of what inorganic waste does to the environment, we can do one simple thing: separate our trash at home.


Credit: breakawaybackpacker.com


You don’t need separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, metal and cardboard, but you can have one bin for organic waste (food, cooking materials and anything that will naturally decay) and another for inorganic waste (paper, plastic, metal, glass…etc.). If enough people start doing this, garbage sorters will simply walk up to garbage bins and pick up some bags, leaving the others intact. Organic waste will be kept closed and therefore not get spilled on the street. These people can tell what’s inside a trash bag from its weight, after all.

If, however, you’d like to contribute even more, you can keep food waste in separate boxes (not bags, for easier accessibility) for street animals. You wouldn’t believe how some chicken bones and rice can save a stray animal’s life, and you can even take it a step further and adopt not shop.

Talk to the members of your household and establish this simple garbage rule and you’ll be making a considerable difference to the environment and to Cairo’s streets. We might not have a lot of resources here, and we’re not trying to save the world, but we can still make a change together.

Happy recycling, everyone!

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