Waste disposal and recycling

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This sign on a bus in Ecuador says, ‘Don’t vote for trash out the window.’

[Obviously it’s supposed to say ‘Don’t throw trash out the window’, but despite Spanish being one of the easiest languages to spell, I often see people mixing up votar and botar. But that’s another story.]

While it might seem like common sense, or at least common courtesy, not to throw rubbish out of a moving vehicle, it isn’t in Bolivia, Peru and, to a certain extent, Ecuador. But at least Ecuador puts up signs like this one and provides bags for rubbish on bus journeys. And since I’ve only seen someone throwing rubbish out the window once, I’ve got to assume it’s working.

This behavior seems incredibly selfish and ignorant to me, and I get really mad when I see people doing it. However, the other side of it is that people make a living sorting through rubbish and recycling salvageable material. If someone is always ready to go through your waste for you, then you don’t really have any need or incentive to do it yourself, let alone think twice before littering in a public place that will get cleaned up quickly.

If you’d like to find out more about recycling and the informal economy, this interesting article explains about the system in Lima (which is very much like that in La Paz). For a look at Uruguay’s recyclers, see our blog post.

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One thought on “Waste disposal and recycling

  1. Votar and Botar ( to throw) are pronounced the same. The thing is that “V” and “B” are pronounced exactly the same in Spanish thus leading to spelling mistakes. ( In old Castillian it was OK to spell words that were phonetically equal with either “V” or”B”). 😉

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