Thursday, September 23, 2010

What do you do with your trash?

Foreigners that are new to Korea usually ask this question.

Good question - it took us a few weeks to get the trash system completely figured out.  The unfortunate thing is that how you deal with trash changes from city to city and from neighborhood to neighborhood.  The following is how it works for us (in our apartment in our neighborhood in our city).

There are three main categories:

Food - we put ALL our food scraps, peels etc in a clear (emphasis on clear) bag in the freezer.  The bag that you get produce in is a great bag to use.  When the bag is full, we put the whole bag in the "red bucket."  We have a yellow token (some other neighborhoods have stickers) that we put on top of the red bucket.  This token/sticker is important, your food waste will not get emptied unless you use it.  Then we simply stick the red bucket outside of our apartment building on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday (before 7:30 am) and it gets emptied.  If you keep an eye out, you will notice other red buckets, just stick yours near the others.  If you use a not clear bag, then the man will tear open the bag, empty it quickly and leave the bag in your red bucket (it is gross), they think if you use a not clear bag that you are trying to sneak something in, so use the clear bag.  Our red bucket still looks like new and does not smell or look gross.  We have heard that you get fined if you put food in with the trashtrash. *After living here for 11 months, I learned that you are supposed to put eggshells and chicken bones in the trashtrash.  

Ze red bucket (with the lid open)
Recycle - Korea is really into recycling (in my opinion).  We have a big bag that we stick all of our paper, plastic, and aluminum in.  We put the bag outside our apartment and an old lady comes and gets it.  Some apartments have recycling bins that you sort your stuff.  This is the part that took us a while to figure out.  Do not ask about recycling in public.  I am a sinner and throw all my stuff in the largest looking container at Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.  Sorry Korea. 

Trash trash - Make sure you buy trash bags.  The trash bags for our neighborhood are clear/white.  We have seen yellow and orange trash bags in different parts of the city.  Once your trash bag is full, find the light pole in your neighborhood that has bunches of trash bags at the bottom of it.  Set your bag there.  I think trash gets picked up once or twice a week.  There is no "garbage collection" fee, it is covered by the cost of the garbage bags.

Best of luck in your trash adventures.

If you have further questions, shoot me an email or comment on this post

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