The spring sun does something incredible to the colours in Prague. The turn-of-the-century buildings begin to glow with pastel yellows and pinks, purples and whites of the blooming trees and the bright reds and deep orange of the natural and artificial tanners. This year’s April sun has been particularly kind to this city. With the greyness of the winter gone, though, the yellow, blue and green recycling containers on street corners have lost their prominence. But this is speaking purely from a color perspective. Recycling is steadily on the rise in this city. You can tell by the growing number of previously mentioned containers that in some neighbourhoods can be found, their hungry mouths gaping, on every other street corner.
The city services department has made a considerable effort in the past three years to encourage residents to recycle and generally follow the rules of waste management. Czechs like rules, and they also value cleanliness (which has its good and bad sides), so the different EKO-campaigns usually do not fall on deaf ears. Recycling, though, is still a somewhat foreign concept to some people, especially the older generation. EkoKom, the company that’s in charge of recycling here, launched a whole barrage of TV ads in 2008 with slogans “Any reason is a good reason to recycle” and “What’s your excuse?[not to recycle]”. One that I particularly liked, with a good pinch of harmless central-European chauvinism shows a young boy waiting with his empty bottles for a beautiful woman to come to the recycling bin with a batch of newspapers. If you have a free minute, here’s the ad in English.
Generally, Prague has been making considerable progress in recycling. Even a few artists have been making good use of the trend by creating fun exhibits. Veronika Richterová created plastic-bottle fauna in Prague’s main botanical garden last year in an exhibit “PET Tropicana”. Shiny green pimply crocodiles lurked in the pool and orange- and red-beaked parrots sat among the tropical greenery in the gardens’ Fata Morgana greenhouse. Richterová actually had a number of exhibits using PET bottles in the past few years. A group of young artists UMakArt will be organizing a quasi-museum of waste called Plastecium as part of a end-of-school-year student celebration Majales. “Trash Design Shop”, where people will be able to create new things from old scraps and pieces of trash, sounds particularly interesting.
Recycling plastic, glass and paper is all well and good, but I do sometimes miss the perfumes of organic waste baskets that I got used to seeing in every townhouse during my time in London. But even those efforts are gaining speed in Prague. What unfortunately never fails to disappoint me is the lack of attention that is paid to out-of the-way places, very often in parks or wooded areas in the outskirts of the city. On a recent bike ride to the Hostivař reservoir we passed through small forests where people seemed to have dumped old mattresses and other household junk, and left it there for months. Sometimes it seems that the city officials only care about keeping it clean where people can see it, but trashing nature that's beyond most people's gaze can be overlooked.
Friday, April 29. 2011
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