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One man’s trash is another man’s … groceries?

31 December 2012

Rachel Levin (Al Jazeera) on another of those oddball Mexico City programs that are smarter than they appear.  While not a money maker (quite the opposite) the program not only is a carrot to the stick of “mandatory” recycling stick.

In my old DF neighborhood, Santa María de la Ribera… which was, at least in theory, one of the more “progressive” areas… the trash collectors  came down the street ringing a bell (“bring out your dead!”) and you’d run out with your bagged garbage and a peso or so for the collectors.  AND, if you didn’t catch the collector, you’d end up throwing the trash into a big pile on corner.  While some of us did try to recycle, there was hardly any way to “punish” non-conformists, and just refusing to pick up from those that wouldn’t recycle would have been a hardship — and a danger — to the rest of us… even sitting just overnight, Eva Perra, the dog I had at the time, flushed out more than a few rats out of those trash piles.  I suppose this a variation on the cliche that “you catch more flies with honey,” might be “you breed less rats with vegetables”.

 

And, as it is, this isn’t really a “new” idea… just an innovative reinterpretation of something that’s been going on in Mexico for a very long time.  The farms along the canals have been there since the Aztecs, and it’s only been in the past few years that people have come to realize how important they are to preserving the environment (and the water quality) in the Valle de Mexico.  In Tenotitchtlán… where minor offenders were sentenced to “community service” cleaning the streets and outhouses, what is euphemistically labeled “night soil” was carted off for use on the farms along the canals.   There’s some evidence that the leftovers from religious sacrifices were also carted off to the farms.  Why not?  The Aztecs were fanatical recyclers who found human bones perfectly good material for things like musical instruments.

21st century trash is a bit more than varied than what the Aztecs might have left for the garbage men, and we’re a bit squeamish these days… though the farmers are still there, and people want to eat something other than each other.  Win-win (except maybe for rat-hunting pups).

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