Saturday, May 18, 2013

we are the green in the bandera

Recycling has come to Mexico.

Can you think of any sentence steeped more in gringo hubris than that one?

Mexico, like most other places in the world, has long been a land of recycling.  If something breaks in an American suburb, it gets thrown out as trash.  If the same item breaks in Mexico -- or on a family farm in eastern Washington -- it will find new life somewhere else.

I am not certain who came up with the idea originally around these parts, but there has been a big drive to recycle plastic bottles.  From an aesthetic vantage, it is a great idea.  Beach towns are magnets for people who see nothing wrong with tossing bottles and wrappers whenever and wherever they are empty.

To counter that trend, someone has installed large collection areas for plastic bottles.  And people actually use them.

But, some of us also collect our plastics in smaller containers.  In my case, I save plastic bottles and aluminum cans for the maid.  She takes them away when the bag is full.

And this is eventually where all ofthe plastic ends up.


I have been told that most of these bottles are shipped to China where the plastic is remolded into various products -- and then sold around the world.  I do not know if that is true, but it makes sense.

During the recession, when China's exports slowed down due to lack of demand, you could see a very physical example of the economic slowdown.  The plastic bottles started forming Himalayas of waste.   It was Lucy in the chocolate factory all over again.

Now that the world's economy is back on track, the mountains are mere hills.

The reason we recycle in Mexico?  There is money in it.  Without the Chinese market, I suspect our beaches would be forming plastic bottle islands before long.  And then we could float them to China.

Just like latter-day Thor Heyerdahls.


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