October 29, 2010

Congratulations, Comayagua!

Recycling in Comayagua, HondurasJust one of the mountains of recyclables in Comayagua
Sorry for shoddy TV photos!

Wow! Comayagua had its first recycling marathon and collected — literally! — mountains of recycled plastic and aluminum cans. What fabulous results! Hopefully people will be impressed with the amount of trash saved from the streets, streams, and landfills and will continue the project.

Honduras has a tremendous problem with overflowing landfills. Here in La Ceiba, the landfill has been reported to be on the verge of full for years and the city has had no money to buy property for a new location. The current dump overflows to the community below — Los Laureles, which you can find out more about at Matthew's blog, Here I Raise my Ebenezer. Matthew is a young Mennonite man who works with the people of Los Laureles.

The culture of recycling has not really developed among the population in general in Honduras. A few of the very poor make their meager living by scavenging recyclables from the dumps and selling them to consolidators. Some, including children, even live at the dumps among the filth and stench because they have no place else to live and no other way of making a living.

Recycling in Comayagua, HondurasRecycling may seem a trivial issue compared to the more serious problems of Honduras. But I think there is a lot to said for pride in your community. That can lead to other good things, or so says the "broken window theory". Recycling can also be a means of making or augmenting a living, and maybe even the start of new businesses, certainly good things for Honduras.

If you are wondering what you can do to recycle in Honduras, all I can tell you is what we do in La Ceiba. We wash and store our recyclable plastic in large bags, one for metal and one for plastic. It takes no time at all to do that and if water is a concern, you can always rinse them with your dirty dishwater.

In the past, when the bags were full, we put them out separately for the trash collectors, who were very grateful because they didn't have to dig through our trash looking for recyclables and could make a little extra money from them. Arexy takes our old newspapers every couple of weeks to a relative who uses them to start fires in her wood cooking stove.

Now that La Ceiba has a new trash collection system, with brand spanking new trash compactor trucks, I'm not sure if the recycling would go directly into the compactor or not. We haven't talked to them yet, but after reading
Matthew's article, we decided that we would drop off the bags when they are full with people in the Los Laureles community. I'm hoping to read an update about the current situation from Matthew (hint, hint).

So, if you live in Honduras, ask your trash collector, if you have one, or ask around. You may find that there are efforts to recycle, so with a minimum of effort on your part, you can help the environment and maybe even give a little help to some folks who need it. Roatán has recently started a recycling project which will help the people in the community and help to make a more beautiful, trash-free island. Hooray for them, too. Maybe we'll start seeing more of these community programs in the future.

If you are 'crafty' and looking for a more creative way to recycle, check out my crocheted plastic bag articles. I have recycled literally thousands and thousands of plastic bags! Speaking of that, I have lots of new photos to show you. I think you'll be amazed at what the lowly, much-maligned plastic bag can be turned into.

Related articles:

Recycling by horse cart
(January 2008)

If you bag it, they will come (July 2008)

Sneak preview: The plastic bag plastic bag (September 2008 - with lots of related articles)
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