“Excuse me, where is the recycling?” and other excellent jokes

I’ve traveled a lot, but I’m still a Seattle girl. My inner bleeding-heart-liberal, Cascadia eco-warrior comes out when I least expect it. I’m still shocked when I encounter styrofoam in restaurants and plastic bags in grocery stores, even though I can find all that just a few short miles from Seattle. Morocco, though, is on a different level.

On the plus side, I haven’t come across any styrofoam here yet! And most of the bags provided in the shops are fabric-like, rather than plastic.

When I was checking in, the girl who showed me around pointed out the kitchen wastebin. “And where do I put my recycling?” I asked innocently (in my defense, jet lag was involved). She laughed as if I has just made the best joke in the world. “Recycling! In Taghazout! Maybe in 20 years, come back then” she replied.

I quickly learned that garbage is treated indiscriminately, and that littering is common practice. Plastic bags of food scraps are routinely tossed into the street; possibly meant as food for the street cats and dogs, and used that way in any case.

I saw a garbage truck picking up trash one day (translation: I saw a couple guys tossing bags of garbage into the open back of an oversized pickup truck, which may or may not have had an official affiliation). One guy was in the back, opening the bags and separating plastic bottles into a partitioned-off section of the truck. Sometimes one didn’t meet his approval, and it was tossed overboard into the street. I assume the ones he kept were headed for recycling of some kind?

I also noticed barrels with a recycling symbol near the parking lot at Paradise Valley (a popular hiking spot), so there must be some kind of system in place, even if it’s not widespread.

This morning I spent a couple hours sunning and reading on the rooftop terrace of my building. I ate a couple oranges while I was up there, and made a neat pile of the peels on a table to bring down with me to the garbage.

While I was reading, the cleaning lady came up to hang laundry. She noticed my orange peels, grunted and shook her head in disapproval, carefully gathered them up… and tossed them (without looking down) over the edge of the roof into the street four floors below. Sorted.

Next time I’ll know better than to leave such a mess… and I’ll try to remember to look up when I’m walking in the street!

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