If You Can’t Reuse It, Refuse It

On June 22, 2018, we (HELP International) had the opportunity to volunteer with DOKO Recycling at the Alliance Francaise Kathmandu Music Festival for World Music Day. First of all, can we talk about how the same people who are hosting a music festival are also emphasizing recycling and educating people on the trash issue in Nepal? You guys are rockstars. As volunteers, we manned the recycling bins and directed festival goers to the bin that corresponded with their trash. It was a blast — and mostly because of the people we met and talked with about waste. Here’s our train of thought: If you’re at a music festival, then you’re probably passionate about music. If you’re passionate about music, it’s likely you’re passionate about other things, too. What better way to channel a passionate person’s enthusiasm than into keeping their beautiful country clean of trash! And we talked to a lot of people who were passionate about trash. It was interesting to watch people engage with the bins and see just how much they cared about recycling. Before we started working with DOKO, we can’t even remember the last time we separated our plastics and papers. Horrible, right? Luckily, a lot of the festival goers were cooler than us. Some people threw their trash into bins based on color and best guesses for what type of waste that color corresponded to. Other people threw their trash into bins without looking at all. Many people, however, spent time reading the bins and learning about what can be recycled and how — we’re really proud of those types of people! One guy accidentally dropped his trash on the ground, picked it up, and then properly threw it away. Shout out to you, really cool French guy with a rockin’ artsy ponytail. Two girls even started helping us direct people on where to put their beer cans. It was awesome because, like, teamwork makes the dream work, and our dream is to clean up Kathmandu. It’s really all about starting the conversation. Even we learned a lot that day that we hadn’t known before. There are multiple types of plastic? (Yes. Soft and hard. Who knew? So cool.) Candy wrappers can’t be recycled!? What’s even cooler is that as soon as people at the festival started to learn what we were learning, it became a part of the conversation. And, with the Nepali, French, Americans, and others in attendance, it became a worldwide conversation. That’s the key: we talk about it, we learn, and once we learn about the problem we’re more likely to get started on finding a solution. It might seem like a daunting task, but all it takes is the effort of a few passionate people to make a big difference.