make waste valuable, it’s the trash solution

i had a tough conversation with my haitian mother about trash in her hometown. she wanted me to have a miraculous answer to her hometown’s plastic problem and i was pretty stuck because the simple fixes aren’t real fixes and the real solutions are insurmountable for one person to solve. she started by telling me about the plastic waste in haiti (which is a prevalent dilemma in most developing countries). in a small town in haiti, where waste mgmt (pick up trucks and landfills) are non existent, the visibility if your everyday habits (mostly plastic) sit in your front yard and taunt you everyday. many may think trash in my front yard is unfortunate (and it is socially and mentally) but it’s also a circumstance that makes ppl more aware of how much they consume. there’s so many factors and resources and policymakers that make up the waste industry and i felt hopeless without a clear and precise solution that would some how make the plastic trash disappear. the real solution is to commodify trash (think 5cents for metal cans) so that even in its least desirable state it has value so that informal pickers (a viable job in many places) can pick up items to take to a material bank to be compensated for keeping the earth clean, hopefully even start ‘picker coops’ with healthcare and such. this would mean that policy makers have to enact laws that prohibit the creation and distribution of materials that will eventually have no value. everything should always have purpose, that’s what nature shows us! manufacturers have to redesign their packaging so it is biodegradable, landfills need to be swapped for material banks, and subsequently people will pick up trash to make money. and yes, lessening the demand helps but that a goal is unlikely within a thriving capitalist system. commodification of trash is no perfect solution but it’s the best in a capitalist society. 


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