following the trash

I am pleasantly surprised at a system of trash pickup that is current here in Sta Mesa, Manila. My wife and I recently moved here because it would be easier to take care of Timmy, our newborn son and because living with my in-laws would save money all around and would allow me to share an internet connection with everyone. All good things.

Every day the trash truck comes by. Unlike in the U.S., we don't have large lawns nor can we leave our trash in large, sturdy trash bags on the street since:

  1. most people won't spend the money for those trash bags since the bags are expensive and most people are poor.

  2. dogs, cats and rats will rip through the garbage looking for food.

  3. there are a lot of really poor people who will rip through the garbage looking for food and for recyclables, which they can sell.

I'm certainly not against helping the poor people recycle (in fact, read on, this *is* about helping the poor), but in ripping through the trash (usually in grocery plastic bags) the trash is scattered all over the street and can't be put back into any neat state. So the streets would have trash all over the place.

In any case, I'm pleasantly surprised by the system they have here. Maybe it's an informal system that only works with our trash truck, but it's a great system that could be emulated elsewhere. When the trash truck comes by and blows its great airhorn, a nice lady comes over to our gate and calls for the trash. She's not a garbageman at all, just an enterprising nice lady who recycles. She and her husband follow the trash truck and, when it stops, they knock on nearby doors asking for the garbage. We give them the garbage bags and they throw the garbage in the truck. Since they're nice, my mother-in-law also sets aside recyclables and gives those to the lady already separated from the trash, and pretty clean.

I bet all the houses along our row, and all the houses she visits as the truck moves along slowly all separate their garbage. It's a great way to help an enterprising woman who goes out of her way to be nice to homeowners, and who also provides a great service (without her, we would have to take the garbage out to the truck when it arrives, not a big deal for us since we're pretty close to the corner where the truck hangs out, but possibly a problem for those further down the street, especially the old and infirm who stay at home while their children work in the daytime).

It's an efficient way to recycle, it helps a lovely woman who provides a great service to a lot of people, and it doesn't cost anything. It's totally win-win. Well, maybe not. If we had a much better economy, the woman would be doing something else. But while we are trying to dig ourselves out of the hole our corrupt politicians have created for us, it's a great win-win.

I bet that woman would be a great subject for a short news story. When we throw stuff away this Christmas (we have too much stuff, sol and I regularly give away clothes we don't use anymore), I'm going to give her a lot of that stuff. I've given away enough clothes to my friends Sochie and Jack and their kids :-).

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