As I wrote about in my Recycling Bottle Wall, trash management is a difficult challenge in the campo. Most community members either burn their trash in a fogon (wood fire cook stove) or haul it to the community trash pit thirty minutes away. Unfortunately at the entrance bus stop, one can see plastics lying around the waiting area. There is just no infrastructure set in place to assist with trash management. Nor has there been education about the harmful effects of trash on your body and the environment. So there is a dire need for creativity and collaboration in order to tackle this complex issue.
One such solution can be the implementation of incinerators. During my Peace Corps training, I learned about this form of trash management for the campo. Incinerators technically fall into the CEC sector, but I love cross-sector projects! Ideally, it is better to not burn trash at all, but an incinerator is a better method to do so. When trash is burned inside of an incinerator, the point is that it burns at a higher temperature, therefore also eliminating toxins.
An incinerator is a metal barrel that’s bottom has been cut off and metal wire has been attached in its place. This allows the heat to burn the trash without smaller trash pieces falling directly into the fire. Holes are strategically carved out of the sides in order to let heat out. Conseguir three flat rocks or blocks of cement to place underneath the barrel. Firewood goes in the center of the three rocks/cement- like a fogon. It is important to keep use the top that comes with the barrel (which can be found used at gas stations $15 +/-). Like many campo initiatives, it is very important to utilize local materials. This enables a more sustainable project, as community members can make more incinerators or fix something easily if it becomes broken.
It is best to create several incinerators and separate the trash. Burning certain products, like plastics, with others, like papers, create more harmful toxins that are released into the air. When you burn types of trash separately, it is much less harmful. Have fun labeling the barrels with some artists in the community! Throughout this process, be sure to collaborate with passionate community members. They will be the ones maintaining it after all. If possible, promote the community to elect a Trash Committee, where several key people will be in charge of burning the trash, separating it if necessary, and inspiring other community members to use incinerators. They should be placed at your community bus stop, store front, school, meeting house, church, and any other central places where people congregate. Of course an incinerator is the “The Answer” but it is one step closer to effective trash management!