Sunday, January 20, 2008

Recycling the old

When I lived in London - and even when I travelled on holiday - one favourite pastime at weekends was to visit street markets - especially "flea markets", selling vintage clothing, furniture, objets d'art...and yes, junk. You never knew what gem you might discover...even if you didnt buy anything, it was endlessly fascinating; a real journey back in time...

Living in Taiwan (and South Korea before) those places rarely exist...People's attitudes to old or second hand goods are a little different..they prefer to buy brand new; or maybe there's also a religious/cultural rejection of having things that were owned by people who have passed away.

In South Korea, people's attitudes did start to change when a local non profit charity organisation started to open shops specialising in 2nd hand clothing and household goods..which were immaculately cleaned and repaired before they were displayed for sale . The first opened in a neighbourhood I was living in.

It was called the Beautiful Store. A few years back, they also started running a flea market. They were trying to introduce the culture of recycling.

[You can read more about the idea on this link...
http://www.beautifulstore.org/english/index.asp]

So I was intrigued to spot something that looked like a flea market in Taipei when I was on my way to do an interview last week.

After my work was finished, I walked back to try to find the place..its on the corner of Bade Lu and Jianguo...an aladdins cave of unwanted goods..from clothing, to old electrical stuff, kitchen gear and some furniture.

I found out it was run by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation...

One volunteer let me take a peep upstairs ..which is normally only open for schoolgroups for educational purposes; lots of Japanese-era items and other old paraphernalia from old fashioned telephones and cameras to suitcases.

It was pretty cool. No, i didnt buy anything that morning, but plenty of people were making purchases...one woman told me she tries to come almost every day to find great stuff, which she would then try to sell via her internet site.

One person's waste could be another person's treasure ..and the money all goes to a worthy cause.

4 comments:

cfimages said...

There's also a flea market in Kaohsiung at Tungmeng Road and Shihchuan Road. It's supposed to have 200 or so stalls, but I've never been so I don't know what it's like.

Anonymous said...

i feel the same with you about the flea market, especially when i was traveling in New Nealand. it has great fun but people in Taiwan still prefer in a brand new stuff. there are some flea markets in Taipei on Roosevelt rd. sec 2. alley 30, but it's not really cheap there..

Lionel Walter Rothschild said...

hi, however, recycling glass, metal, paper or plastic material in London is still rare, at least I didn't see any recycling when I stayed in London from 1999 to 2004. Taiwan has started doing recycling since the Japan colonial period and if you look at the recycling in official buildings or schools (esp. universities) you would find it has been a part of our culture for long.

caro said...

Hello Lionel.

You are right about Taiwan's recycling record...I think the island actually is number one worldwide or very close to it when it comes to the level of recycled waste. Even compared to Japan, Taiwan has a better record.

Though when i lived in London, there was recycling of paper, bottles, clothing..but individuals were expected to take those items to the special "bottle banks" or "clothes banks" - normally located at a big car park. If I remember correctly, paper waste was picked up from households.