Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Talking trash

This is a very beautiful city with a hideous garbage problem.

In winter 2005, the city installed orange trashcans on the streets and launched a big publicity campaign to promote their use.

A year and a half later, I'd say there is still a garbage problem.

There are actually multiple garbage problems.

The first is littering, which is what the orange trashcans were meant to cut down on.

The second is the trash collection system, in which the trash bags are left on the streets for collection and then torn open and picked over for recyclables and valuables by cartoneros (cartón is cardboard, so cartoneros is cardboarders). The cartoneros are a topic for another time. I am reluctant to criticize anyone whose lot in life is digging through the trash. And some are actually remarkably neat about it. But some are not and they leave a mess.

There is trash collection six days a week here. Should be the cleanest city around, right? It only means there are six chances a week for trash bags to be ripped open, their contents strewn on the sidewalk.

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