Childhood and environmental conscience in Switzerland

Childhood and environmental conscience in Switzerland

I attended the Green Cross International event in Geneva and took pages and pages of notes. There was a lot of information and a focus to provide COP21 in Paris with a message from Geneva, Humanitarian city to Paris and the leaders present for that conference.

Dr. Somthai Wongcharoen – Founder, Wongpanit Group of Companies (Thailand) made a speech about the company he started in 1976. He saw waste not as a problem but as a resource. Through encouraging people to bring their rubbish and paying for it, by establishing recycling centres around the world he helped turn waste in to commodities. During his presentation the topics he covered were familiar.

That’s because in Switzerland PET plastic has been recycled for 25 years, a quarter of a century. It is an inherent part of my character that I will recycle plastic bottles whenever I can. Recycling culture in my village is strong. For several years now we have had a recycling centre rather than a dump. Aluminium, PET plastic, other plastics, paper, and cardboard are all recycled. So is garden rubbish. The amount of rubbish that heads to an incinerator is now a third of a bag every three weeks. In other words I drive to the recycling centre and drop off recycling in the appropriate places and the waste that heads to an incinerator is minimal.

This is such an ordinary part of my life, as a person living in the Canton de Vaud that I feel bad about throwing away rubbish in garbage bags rather than sorting it. Recycling is easy. I started as a child and continued as an adult. It is nice that it has become such an important part of village life.

It seems funny that just 20 minutes from where I live recycling culture is so much weaker. I’m thinking of Geneva. In Geneva people still treat rubbish the old fashioned way. They don’t sort it. This is an abberation and I hope and want Geneva to follow suit. I want to see more places like we see in Geneva train station. In the train station you can sort your rubbish by PET, Paper, Aluminium or other. This is a fantastic initiative by the CFF and needs to spread to conference centres, places of employment and more. If you sell aluminium cans or plastic bottles you should offer a place to recycle these resources.

I will leave you this video to show how waste management can be seen as resource management.


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