Important Notice

It is not my intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia or its people. It’s like everywhere else, there is good and there is bad. I would rather focus on the unusual and the humourous. Offence is not intended.

“The country is not perfect. The media cannot be trusted, mistreatment of religious minorities is common and there are some that live in fear.” You can decide for yourself whether that statement is about Saudi Arabia, the UK, or any country for that matter.

To quote the Joker, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

That is all I will say about either subject.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Recycling Does Not Mean "Riding A Bike Twice"

I've lived in countries where you are made to feel like a leper for requesting a plastic bag in the supermarket.
“This is a customer announcement. Margrave at till number four has just requested an extra plastic bag. Rotten tomatoes are available from the fruit counter. He will be in the stocks for the next sixty minutes.”
I've also lived in countries where you run the risk of being lynched if you’re caught wasting precious water by washing your car.
“Drown in your soapy water, sinner!”
Therefore I was completely taken aback to find that in Saudi Arabia (which happens to be a desert region, don’t you know) there is no apparent restriction on water usage and when you go the supermarket they give almost every single item its own individual plastic bag! Whenever we try to use our own reusable bag we end up in a race with the packing guy who desperately tries to do his job and pack the plastic bags before we can grab the items for ourselves.
Every time I walk out of Carrefour or Hyperpanda in Riyadh with 30 items of food in 27 plastic bags I look back at all those times of saving one or two bags on our trips to the supermarket and feel like a total fool.
If I was a smart man I’d explain it as a link to the country being a desert and therefore no one caring about conservation. Or perhaps because plastic bags are made from by-products of oil production they are considered neither expensive nor important.

But I’m not a smart man, so I won’t.
But I will say: Come on Saudis! Stop using all those plastic bags, let’s at least save a few for when the oil runs out.


Nick Upton said...

What a nightmare. I've experienced the same thing in South-east Asia and it certainly makes you wonder if it is worth making the effort.

Well, of course it is; without someone to set an example who is going to follow?

I hope you are able to keep winning the race to pack your shopping and save on those plastic bags.

Sand Gets in My Eyes said...

The whole bag thing IS amazing, isn't it? As far as conservation - or lack of - goes, I had an old Bedouin guy explain it to me like this - in the desert, the tradition is that you bury things when you are done with them and maybe some time in the future, they will be uncovered and someone else traveling along the same route will need it and find it. Works great for things like extra sand shovels and tins of tuna maybe, but not so great for plastic bags, stryofoam cups and other items that never disintegrate.

BTW The camp where we live - and the company we work for - has just started a comprehensive recycling far so good!

Anonymous said...

I experience the same problem with the bags over here in Bahrain.

Every time I throw a tin can or card board box away, I fell guilty. I wonder how long until that feeling goes away...or when they will open a recycling center here?

Anonymous said...

It's true I experience it also.

I'm from the Philippines and just arrived here in Alkhobar a month ago and truly amazed the way Saudis used plastic bags in supermarkets and plastic plates and styrofoam in every meal we ordered.

In my country we also used plastics bags but here in Saudi.... Superb.

Since we arrived here in Alkhobar as Family Status I collected already 5 big bags of assorted waste materials such as plastic bottles, tin cans and paper straw just from our own consumption. I plan to sell it in the junkshop but my problem is if theres a recycle centers or junkshop here in Alkhobar. Any body can give me information?


Sarah said...

i need this information too please. i work in Khobar and my company is searching for a recycling company or any similar entity to give it paper and other waste. please if anyone know a contact email me

kimberly said...

I think recycling is a great alternative to save our planet or decrease the pollution. I think this problem still have a sollution, just depend of us. We need to think about our vehaviour and make a change and start to make the difference.

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Anonymous said...

People and the Government are recently becoming aware of the importance of recycling, soo now a lot of recycling trash cans are all over khobar and Dammam if you look well you will notice them. There are bags for paper plastic and cans, no glass.

Anonymous said...

My son wants to start the recylcilng in our compound (expats only) in Al Juabail, but we don't know whether to approach govt authority or the city private recycling company in the Jubail...

We have seen color coded recycle bins in Al Khobar, but haven't succeded so as to who put it there and where does the stuff go?
Can anyone help please????