“Don't hate me for this one - but you are tagged at mine...” So began the comment that lead me to discover June 22 - 28th is National Recycling week in the UK. In the blog post she was referencing, Tuzla’s Fraught Mummy asks me: “Can you do any better in the Bosnian context? I think I'll struggle with the free availability of kesa at every store. Is Mostar any better on the recycling front?”

It is true that most Bosnian shopkeepers would be genuinely offended, bemused, or both, if you tried to exit their store without your purchases safely wrapped in a generous selection of carrier bags. I could talk about how these bags end up blowing about the city, adorning trees and shrubs like some exotic form of flora. However, I’m going to lurch off in a slightly different direction.

I remember one occasion after a particularly windy day when I should have stopped and photographed a field full of this freakish foliage. It was a truly sobering site, all the more so because it bordered the rubbish dump where many of the young people we know live and work with their families. We put our rubbish in the large bin on our street. They come around and rummage through the bin rescuing anything useful, like bottles for recycling or metal for resale. They are the heroes of recycling in Mostar.

I’ve still not been to see where they live. It would seem like an insensitive intrusion unless I has a legitimate reason to visit, although I regularly drop young people to the car park just outside the dump after an evening at Klub. I’ve not asked but I can’t help but wondering if they prefer me not seeing where they live. Perhaps it allows them greater dignity and the freedom to be what so many others refuse to let them be – normal young people.

In a city too often divided by ethnic tensions these heroes are a unifying factor in that they are almost universally looked down upon. But as we’ve got to know more of these young people we’ve found them to be so different to the prejudice-driven stereotypes that exist. When these young people visit Klub they are polite and well behaved. I’ve always found them obviously appreciative and never seen them take advantage of what’s on offer to them; all very different to some other young people from more privileged backgrounds.

So my pledge is not to do something that reduces my waste or increases my recycling but to do something for those who are already out there working with Mostar’s waste. Novi Most’s summer programme starts tomorrow morning and I will be there to serve, amongst others, those who get no thanks for working with rubbish. And when I am shopping I will only take a plastic bag if I absolutely need to!


Absolutely brilliant post. And you are right, they are the total heroes. i hope they all enjoy the summer programme at Novi Most, they deserve to.

Would you mind if I link to your post and also forward it to the collection of blog posts about recycling week that are being put together?
WeDoAdventure said…
Thanks...feel free to link away!
Just to let you know that I've shamelessly quoted from this post on my latest one!

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