No longer Eastern Europe exists. It was once called ‘Eastern Europe’ to be separated from ‘Western Europe’ in the Cold War, named to show their ideologies, Communism and Democracy. They had infused their ideologies into regional concept to clearly show the contrast between the two. Since Communism no longer exists in this century, they have changed their names into ‘Central Europe’ and ‘Southeast Europe’ and are finding their ways into a new society, democracy.
Full of vivid histories, located in crucial geographical region connecting two continents, and having mixtures of many cultures, these lands are now ready to bloom as new democratic countries and regarded as land of opportunities.
However, as countries that had been communism for a few decades, changing and adapting to a new world is not easy. Many new procedures and contemporary systems are required to restructure the land.
One quick and simple way is to start recycling. It seems obvious and sounds boring. Yet few mention it because it feels too ‘trivial’ to bring into the table when talking about the future of the new golden lands.
Central and Southeast Europe remain the lowest in the ranking of recycling rate around the world. Romania recycles just one percent of its household waste, which locates it in the lowest level of the chart. Slovakia only recycles 13 percent and Croatia just 16 percent of its waste.
Statistics indicates that recycling is far from people’s live. But, keeping the simple and basic rule is the key to the new future especially when looking into the example of South Korea, which has saved money and accomplished job creation through recycling.
Right after the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, South Korea was the poverty-stricken and dirtiest country in the whole world. Unbelievably now, however, it has claimed the 11th place in GDP ranking by IMF, becoming one of the richest countries in the world. The hidden key is recycling.
Ministry of Environment in South Korea reported in 2007 that 4 years of strict recycling rules led to recycling of 4.7 million tons of waste. It saved around 1.7 trillion dollars and brought 3,200 of employment effect.
Furthermore, recycling attracts people. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is now one of the popular cities to shop among neighboring countries. Pleasantness of the city has become the major factor why it attracts many people and make them visit again. Finding bunch of recycling bins everywhere in Seoul is no coincidence. In Korea, recycling has been part of people’s lives and people regard it as indisputable issue.
Actually, situations in Central and Southeast Europe is much better. Visitors are waiting in lines to rush in to visit cities since it is easier to travel when compared to the Cold War days. People wants to visit Zadar to see the unbelievable site of the beach, Bucharest to feel the mixture of old and new, Bratislava to witness to history of medieval times. However, what you have left to once interested visitors is unpleasant memories of waste and trash.
As transferring into a new country and heading for new revolution, why not reach for easy and simple solution? Make a stronger system, and make a habit of recycling. You cannot lose your chance of opportunity because of what you have neglected because of its insignificance, can you?
Youna Ko is a senior at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea. She is a double major in English Linguistics and Business Administration.