Trash is a big issue in many parts of the world. So much can be produced so quickly! Growing up in the States, many of us have a blind eye to the destruction of trash. You fill up your trash can, take it to the street for the trashman, and waalaa! ‘Tis gone and not a problem to think about. In the campo, however, no magical trashman comes and takes away your trash worries. Unfortunately many people turn to burning their trash or throwing it in the monte and rivers. Some communities start a trash pit, where it can break down over time. Another solution is recycling and filling up plastic bottles!
Before talking more about managing trash, I think it’s important to discuss awareness. When grocery shopping, try to purchase items that are sold in containers. You can then reuse the container or trade it with an eager child for vegetables. Cutting down on trash in the first place is a huge step towards better trash management. If you can, try not to purchase products sold in individual wrappers or with various layers of packaging. Also, purchase foodstuffs that can be squeezed into a plastic bottle. Go for the bag of beans instead of the aluminum can, which will take a lot more years to breakdown. Even better, bring your own container to the grocery store and fill it up if they sell foodstuffs in dispensaries (like beans and granola, dried fruits and tea). I’m also a big advocate for reusable bags. Bring them along to your grocery store trip!! Promote a higher consciousness about trash management and methods. So back to my personal method for handling my trash in the campo.
Firstly, this was not my idea. Thank you to the lovely Chinuare for teaching me this method. Plastic bottle recycling is easy, creative and fun to do with the kids of the community. First collect plastic bottles that have been tossed in the grass and on the river banks. Clean them out and bring them back home. When you produce trash (granola bar wrappers, lentils bags, anything that can’t go into the compost) stuff them into a plastic bottle and put the lid on*. To make them super compact, use a durable stick to push the trash down to the bottom. Store the bottles until ready for use.
Hmm but what can you use them for? This is the question I get all the time from neighbors. Well, there is a really cool trending recycling activity: building walls with plastic bottles. NGOs working around the world have begun building schools, homes, and offices from plastic bottles filled with trash. It’s pretty simple and a great cost-saver for concrete bricks. First make a chicken wire/rebar wall. Then attach the bottles with alambre dulce to the chicken wire. Place another layer of chicken wire, to make a bottle sandwich. Then begin slabbing on the cement mix! There are several websites you can go to for more information.
For Renacimiento, I am thinking of using the bottles either for a school sign or a community sign at the entrance on the road. It’ll ultimately be up to the community. We will just need to gather the other materials. Storing my bottles outside has sparked the interest of several community members, especially kids. They have helped me collect trash and bottles on the community sidewalk several times. The kids really love compacting the trash with sticks and rebar! They’ve been really receptive to the idea of recycling and feel very proud to explain it to passerbyes. So, this is just my method for dealing with trash at a household level. I’d love to hear yours!