Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Trash and Knitting

One of the many contradictions about China is that, although there are unquestionably horrific environmental and pollution problems, at the same time, I have never seen so much effort put into recycling. It is certainly the only country I have lived in where I can routinely sell my garbage!

In Liuzhou alone, there are thousands of people engaged in the recycling business. Among them are the semi-beggars who trawl through the city’s litter bins for any scrap of paper, plastic or metal which may be sellable. I have been followed around by one of these chaps who was determined to take possession of my mineral water bottle as soon as I had drained it. I have also sat in a café and watched one litter bin being searched 27 times in one hour. How many scraps of paper and empty water bottles it takes to even survive, I have no idea, but it has to be a desperate life.

Above these unfortunates are the elite scavengers. These possess tricycles with trailers to haul off their prized gatherings. They tend to hang around demolition sites where they strip the wire from reinforced concrete and claim anything at all which may be reusable. There is for example a healthy market in second hand doors. The owners of these doors negotiate a price with the scavengers who then sell them on to the door market to the north of the city. However, these people are not so specialised.

They also go around residential areas, yelling and banging on gongs. Once they have attracted your attention, you can sell them anything from waste paper and old beer bottles, to broken televisions and fridges. I often see them soaking old cardboard to make it heavier when they sell it on to the next guy up the recycling chain.

Just lately a group of them have taken to having a noon-time rest and gossip just under my window. It seems they are knitting experts, too. I’m just praying that the kid lying in the back of one of the trikes is not being recycled!

Knitting Circle

. This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005 at 6:16 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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