Rethinking ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’


Growing up as children, we were all told to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

Collecting glass bottles, aluminum cans and plastic containers was easy to do and felt good. And since it was in line with this simple three-word chant, it seemed like we were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, this chant has not curbed the growing consumerism found in rich, Western countries.

One reason is that it equates a reduction in the consumption of products with recycling products. These are two very different actions. The easy-to-recognize ‘green triangles’ that are found at recycling facilities and on most products themselves further this inaccuracy. Continue reading


Always Pay Attention

I was only in Tamale for 4 days, but what a jam-packed adventure those few days were. So much to learn, so many sights and sounds to experience, and so much to gather before I arrive in Bole for my actual work to begin. For the first couple of days, I was mainly living in automatic mode – getting supplies and enjoying my surroundings.

On Thursday, I went to the market in Tamale (first time by myself) and it was going fine. Got phone credit, some juice for our Fufu pounding party later in the evening, and some very crucial TP. Then I had to share a cab ride with some locals. Still going good as this point. Shared taxis or “Drop-Ins” only cost 60 pesewas, which is approx. 30 cents CAD.

But then I got a little too confident on the ride home, thought I was at the right stop and decided to get out with the other passengers. Big mistake. I was lost!

Such an saliminga (“white person” in Dagbani) move.

I walked and walked but nothing looked familiar. The dirt road I was on wasn’t turning into a paved one like I hoped. None of the shops matched my mind’s eye. Luckily, I trusted my gut and asked for directions. After turning around, I found a mosque where some elderly gentlemen were gathered. Tried to chat but their Dagbani was much better than their English. Turns out I was just a few feet away from the road I was looking for – Old Gumani Road.

With the help of a young man – Isaac – I was able to find my way to more familiar shops. Unfortunately, I hit a second snag. I forgot what my house looked like, as I arrived only the night before in the dark and wasn’t paying enough attention.

Luckily, I asked the local kids where the other people who looked like me stayed and they were happy to tour me to the right destination. I’m sure they found it quite funny to have me rely on them. Only a short walk up the side road and I was met with the familiar sight of a large mango tree and one of the many, many goats of the area. Home!

Moral of the story: When travelling to a new country and an unfamiliar city, pay extra crucial attention to any and all landmarks. Especially when the slightest difference can get you lost in a hurry.