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Recycle for a better life cycle

Aug 04,2019 - Last updated at Aug 04,2019

One of the best qualities of Jordanian society is its predisposition to conservation. As in many societies, conservationist attitudes were borne out of need, and it is not so far back in history that Jordanian society was too poor to let anything go to waste. By consequence wastefulness became tantamount to sinfulness.

Living standards have improved since then, and with the new prosperity came some unfortunate habits, such as regarding waste as a status symbol. But thrift is still a widely practiced virtue.

Even before the advent of recycling technology, Jordanians practiced thrift and re-purposing. Almost every item of packaging is reused repeatedly, long after after its original purpose is fulfilled. Jam jars and plastic containers are cleaned and reused for storage, and yoghurt tubs are also used as leftover food containers.

This, of course, is not a complete solution, but every step in the right direction helps; and as Confucius put it, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.

The next step forward took a long time coming, but at last it has come. Today, Jordanians interested in recycling their household waste have access to more than one enterprise that does this, the most recent of which was launched at the Karak industrial estate to recycle paper, with plans to start recycling plastics to produce diesel fuel.

It is insufficient, however, for recycling activities to be limited to west Amman. Serious efforts are needed to spread awareness of the benefits of recycling on the national level.

Countries that succeeded in this undertaking used various approaches, such as long term public awareness campaigns (15 years in Austria), tax incentives and basing the garbage collection tax on the weight of unrecycled waste collected.

I cannot imagine that any municipality in Jordan may adopt any such measures as yet; so civil society must take the bull by the horns and lead, which would be better. After all, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them, and we must shed the habit of expecting the government to do everything for us.

Two steps are essential if Jordan’s civil society is to lead the country to success in recycling: The first is to lead by example and the second is to use children pressure. 

Leading by example is to practice what you preach, and it is not difficult. People who would like to leave this world a better place for their children than they received it, need simply to sort their household waste in separate containers for paper, plastics, glass and metals for recycling. Then, this behaviour can spread by word of mouth to neighbours, then the whole street, and so on. 

The other initiative needed is to spread awareness of the benefits of recycling among school children and let them pressure their parents and peers into recycling household waste. 

The worst thing to do at all is nothing. The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.


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