One of the differences about living in Taiwan is the way garbage is collected. In America, the garbage trucks run regular routes two days a week, and people put out their garbage bins ahead of time to be emptied.
In Sigang, as in most places in Taiwan, garbage is collected 7 days a week. People do not take the garbage out in bins to be emptied. The garbage trucks in Taiwan announce their arrival well in advance to people in every neighborhood. What sounds a lot like an arriving ice cream truck in the USA, the garbage truck loudspeakers repetitively wail a classical song that can be heard a half mile away. That gives everyone plenty of time to walk out to the roadside with trash bags in hand. Almost everyone stands curbside like spectators of a parade. When the truck gets close, people run up to throw their garbage bags into the back of the slowly moving garbage truck. The truck is always in motion and stops for no one. Since collection is on a daily basis, the garbage is never too much for one person to handle.
This seems like just another example of how practical the people in Taiwan are. With the garbage collected daily, there shouldn’t be too much garbage laying around a house, attracting flies and growing maggots. By not stopping and starting all the time, the garbage trucks get much better gas mileage. By getting everyone out of their house at the same time each day, neighbors always get a chance to wave, check up on each other, and check out what their neighbors are throwing out.
In Tainan City this weekend, I was really taken by surprise when I saw the garbage truck arriving in the neighborhood. It not only blared music, but the loudspeakers also broadcasted English lessons to the neighborhood. The Taiwanese do take learning the English language seriously.
I tip my hat to the Taiwanese for such an efficient garbage collection system. But Taiwan, by far, is not the cleanest place in the world. Unfortunately, such a beautiful island is often marred by unsightly garbage laying on the side of the road, disposed of by people who don’t seem to care much about the earth. I can only hope that the efforts to educate Taiwanese people about the environment pays off and makes a difference before it is too late.