I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people walking the streets of Taiwan while casually unloading a piece of trash right on the street – without so much as a single thought about it. I’ve even stopped people to ask them to pick up the trash they just threw, and they responded as if I’m a crazy person. Who would even think of putting a piece of trash in their pocket or holding it in their hand until a proper place to dispose of it could be found? Just about no one….
Restaurants like Shao-hui’s may have individual trash cans at each table
But in all fairness, the reason that most people don’t think about it is because there is a distinct lack of trash cans in public places in Taiwan. I know because I’ve searched for them and finally gave up and just threw whatever I was holding on the ground, out of frustration. While some places have trash cans inside, and certainly in restaurants you may dispose of whatever you want right on the table as you’re leaving, finding an outdoor trash can is so rare that I only have photos of a single example:
On the other side of the wall behind the people is a blue trash can. This is the only outdoor trash can that I am aware of in my entire neighborhood. This includes a High Life and two 7-11 stores. Why is there a lack of outdoor trash cans?
I believe that the answer is simple. In Taiwan, citizens stand outside each night and wait for the trash truck to come by so they can toss their trash bags into the truck. It’s my guess that no one wants to take responsibility for tossing someone else’s trash. It’s hard to find a trash can even in public parks – which I find inexcusable but the situation is totally acceptable to local people who don’t know any other way.
What about you? Even been stuck walking around with an empty drink bottle or paper food wrapper because there was no proper place to throw it away? Have you ever been forced to discard trash on the street because there was no other alternative?
My last question to all our local readers is: Would you be willing to participate in a neighborhood cleanup action, where the streets were swept clean and the trash collected and properly disposed of?