Taking Care of the Environment by Helen Luu

MY NOTE: Helen Luu is one of the writers in our Creative Writing group. Because she lived in China and Vietnam before moving to America, she has many wonderful stories about her life in another culture. This essay about GARBAGE is interesting and thought provoking. Thanx, Helen

                     Taking Care of the Environment  by Helen Luu

As human beings we never protect our environment until the climate change became an important issue around the world.  I saw the film shown by our friend Pauline Rosenberg at New Horizon Senior Center years ago.  There were tons of garbage floating in the ocean. I felt disheartened when I saw whales or fishes gulped down some of it. Some animals are at risk of extinction because of the poison from our trash. We are the killers.

I grew up in Vietnam. Every morning people swept their sidewalks and the streets in front of their houses with their brooms. The garbage truck came early every morning to collect the trash. I never ever saw plastic bags flying into the air when the wind blew out like here. Moreover, we had very little left-over food; if we did, we saved it in a big container. Someone would come to pick it up to feed pigs. The city was clean.

In Taiwan, people do the same thing as we did in Vietnam. People sweep their sidewalks with their brooms and pick up any trash on the streets in front of their houses. Every family has three bins, one for the trash, one for recycled products and another one for left-over food. The trash truck comes out every evening around 6 pm to collect the trash and left-over food. On the back of the truck there is a big bucket for the left-over food. They have to bring their recycled products to the recycling site.

One thing amuses me is that the trash truck played music of the Maiden’s Prayer. When people hear the music from blocks away, they know the trash truck is coming soon. They do not want to miss the truck, so they rush out to their front doors with their trash/leftover and wait for the truck. The truck comes and stops at one point, then people walk to the trash truck to dump their trash/left-over food accordingly. No trash worker takes your trash. People have to dump it themselves.

We lived in an apartment on the fourth floor in an alley when we were in Taiwan in 1975. I was told by our neighbor how to take care of the trash by listening to the music of Maiden’s Prayer.  That means the trash truck is coming, we had to take our trash and wait for the trash truck at the entrance of the alley. The trash truck would not stop long, so we had to wait for it.

Every evening I had to strain my ears to listen to the music of Maiden’s Prayer for the trash truck coming. At that time, I was so annoyed why they put such beautiful music for the trash. I felt they abused the Maiden.

Today I have a different interpretation, that this is a beautiful way to protect our environment.

Japan is the cleanest country. There was no trash at any place, even at the train tracks.  When I visited Japan in late 1990s, I could not find a trash can in the city for my lunch bag. I was told to bring it back to the hotel to dump it in the trash can. People have to bring their own trash home to dump it in their own trash can. I think it is the basic practical way to protect our environment. Japanese is no struggling to follow the suite.

The USA is a richer country but does not do better to protect the environment than other poor countries. Plastic bags/container are seen everywhere, on the sidewalks, streets, highways and train tracks. When the wind blows out plastic/paper bags are whirling into the air.

So ugly!

Why could not we follow the instruction to separate our trash in the recycle bin?

How can we do better to protect our environment and become environmentally friendly?

The answer is we do need many, many advocates in the White House.

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