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[greenyes] Garbage in Developing Countries - Garbage for Food
Hello All -


I think this is a very interesting concept, but have some major concerns
about environmental justice issues related to this type of program.  Why
should the rich have collection services and the poor or "under served" have
to exchange their trash for food or some other "need"? Seems to me that this
could be a huge problem in terms of marginalizing the poor even more then
they already are. Besides, with little controls on access to (i.e., fencing)
landfills [read: dumps] in countries such as these - who's to say that they
aren't just going to the dump and filling bags with garbage?

I lived in the Caribbean for a while and it seems to me that there is a
strong cultural/educational component inherent in littering. In fact, I was
told by a friend that she littered because she didn't want anyone to see her
with garbage in her hand - that she would be embarrassed. I also got such
explanations as "the sea will come and take it away" and of course the
inexplicable "a lizard will live there" (in a beer bottle!).

I firmly believe the reason people litter may also have more to do with
significant changes in how food is delivered and consumed in these
countries. These populations have gone from producing what was once largely
organic waste streams to huge increases in inorganic transport and packaging
waste - with little or no education regarding the consequences of improper

When writing my thesis on solid waste in the Caribbean I intended to do
surveys and personal interviews to delve into this more deeply, but
unfortunately I realized it was more work then I could do in such a short
time. However, if anyone has done any such work in this area - I would be
very interested in hearing more about it!!

I'm actually in this business because it broke my heart every time I heard
one of my students say "Ah Miss, just throw it Miss" - essentially urging me
to litter. Each time I told them "no" and attempted to explain why littering
wasn't the answer. I'm not sure it helped much since their other teachers
were those who made the comments I mentioned above!

Also let us not forget that a study was just released that 30% of Native
Americans do not have adequate solid waste services - not to mention the
rest of rural America.  So, in reality we are still dealing with these
issues right here in our own backyards! Trying to implement such programs
here would likely lead to cries of injustice.

Just my two cents!

Christine McCoy
Director, Environmental Programs
Rural Community Assistance Program
1522 K Street, NW #400
Washington, DC  20005
Phone: 202/408-1273 ext. 104
Fax: 202/408-8165
Email: cmccoy@no.address

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