Friday, January 15, 2010

file 13

The Sanitation Department in other parts of the world works a little differently. Back in the early 90's when we lived in Japan, we would drop our trash bags on a street corner where the garbage truck would regularly pick them up. Things are a little more sophisticated here, where there are neighborhood trash cans. These are well-marked; Recycle and Biodegradable.

The system isn't quite as smooth as all that, though. When we open the lid to toss some cardboard into the recycle bin, it's not uncommon to find fish bones and flies waiting to greet us.

There are men (and some young boys) who make their living by sifting through the trash cans to look for anything salvageable; cardboard, plastics, metal etc. Each day they load these items onto rickety carts which they push through the streets to the next pile of neighborhood trash. On their way, they call out loudly in a sing-song voice, "Plasteecs!" and other words we can't yet understand, advertising their willingness to pick up any recyclables directly from your home.

To make their pursuit just a little easier, we still try to separate out our biodegradable items from the other trash.

The garbage men then come to pick up what is left. Mark took this photo on Christmas Day, when our local garbage men stopped by, hoping for a Christmas bonus. The smallest bill we had was a 100 peso note (about $2) and they were very pleased with the gift. We're sure thankful for the work they do!

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