Wednesday 28 March 2012: Developing Theme: Waste
This is the tree on the corner of our street. This is where we drop off our trash.
Brazil, as far as I've seen, is dis-similar to other "developing" countries in that there's not mass quantities of trash littering the landscape, no piles of garbage in the city streets being scavenged by critters or lit on fire on occasion. The garbage is usually collected- in used plastic shopping bags- and deposited at the nearest corner or some pre-ordained (yet unrecognizable) site on the street where, nearly every morning, a group of men with a garbage truck stop by and pick it up.
It's my understanding that Brazil does not sort recycling at point-of-origin, but rather "sorts" it at the landfill where un- or under-employed people dig through the trash looking for materials that can be reused. Though this doesn't seem ideal, I am happy to see the trash collected and some of it reused. It makes me think of London in the 1850's, where many people found "employment" by sorting through waste streams to find useful products (highly recommend this read).
Of course, Brazil is not EXACTLY like this (in fact I would say it is INCREDIBLY different) but I think America is so removed from it's waste in so many ways, that we seldom think of it as a useful product that could 1) employ people somehow or 2) be used again (and hence, NOT be thrown into a waste stream) or 3) be a useful material in the manufacture of other goods or services. That said, I would love to see Brazil move away from plastic materials as everything seems to be (unnecessarily) packaged in Styrofoam and plastic-wrap.