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Recycling Devotee Battles Culture of Waste

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA — When Bujin Myagmarsuren visited Japan in 2017, a few things stood out to her. At her hotel, little went to waste.

“There were people who were so frugal that they would write a note to the next visitor asking them to use the shampoo they had used,” she says.

Bujin also noticed that people sorted their garbage, and there was an efficient waste collection system, which she says was lacking in Mongolia, particularly in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Until then, Bujin hadn’t taken much interest in environmental conservation.

She felt compelled to do something on her return to change the culture in Mongolia, where there’s little awareness of recycling and no state-funded waste management facilities. She’s spent the past four years convincing Mongolians about recycling’s benefits through her nonprofit, Zero Waste Mongolia, which in 2019 helped influence the government to ban the use of thin plastic bags.

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