June 1st is Children’s Day in Nicaragua. To create an awareness of environmental problems, Danelia Ponce at Puesta del Sol organized a trash pick-up morning for our local elementary school.The La Paloma Litter Bug Exterminators removed a ton of garbage from our little beach community.
Garbage is a huge problem in Nicaragua. Laughingly, we say that the green and pink plastic bags ditched all over the roads are the national flower of Nicaragua. Within the past six months, Nicaraguan media has made a concerted effort to expand an awareness of the problems with trash. It’s simply a matter of education and more resources for reusing and recycling.
One of the first impressions of tourists visiting Nicaragua is the astounding amount of basura….garbage. Empty plastic bags that once held juice, water, or food are tossed out of the chicken bus windows without a thought. Plastic soda bottles line the streets and dirt paths like AWOL soldiers. Blown out flip-flops embed themselves upright in the sandy roads, almost as if they were tenderly planted. Bits and pieces of clothing dangle from exposed roots and branches of trees like Christmas garland.
Women with twig brooms religiously sweep the garbage out of their yards and into the streets. During the dry season, the trash becomes a foundation for a sturdy road bed. When the rainy season begins, rivers of trash wash to the lake where the garbage bobs and floats around until a strong wind deposits the stinky accumulation on a local beach.
It’s a never-ending cycle of garbage bobbing, floating, planted, pitched, and buried in this country. It’s going to take time. New ideas have to be introduced slowly and consistently in Nicaragua. Several years ago, a group of volunteers worked on a recycling project in Moyogalpa. They placed recycling centers around town with neatly decorated signs specifying what kind of garbage should be placed in each metal container. Week one was great… the garbage found its respective place in each metal barrel. Two weeks later…plastic bottles mixed in the organic waste barrel, and plantain stalks shared the barrel designated for plastic. One month later, the barrels were overflowing..no one picked up the garbage. Two months later…the metal barrels were stolen. So much for that good idea!
The La Paloma Litter Bug Exterminators are proud of their community. Danelia’s mother, Dona Soccoro was the queen of the trash collection. “Someone needs to educate the people,” she ranted. That’s what we are all trying to do…poco y poco. I liked the statement from the article below, ” That said, the people of Acahualinca live in communities as vibrant and complex as any, and while they do face harsher environmental and economic conditions, this does not define who they are.” Well said and so true. Education is the key. Little by little!
Here’s an excellent blog article describing the Batahola volunteers encounter with trash.