We’ve come a long way from this:
There is a long way to go, however. We should take a lesson on how people in Mali, Africa tackle litter.
Mali’s trash is on my radar because our daughter is in the Malian city of Bamako. She was advised to bring plastic bags for trash storage because host families don’t always make it clear what happens to the stuff they aren’t using anymore.
Waste disposal is a huge problem. Here is a main street in Timbuktu:
The city of Bamako is growing at an astronomical pace. 100,000 people lived there in 1950, now the population is about 2,000,000. The huge influx overwhelmed infrastructure, threatening water supplies and creating hazardous living conditions. In 2008 the Mercer Health and Sanitation Index rated Bamako the 16th dirtiest city in the world (Source: http://hassam.hubpages.com/hub/25-Most-Dirtiest-Cities-In-The-World).
So how trash is handled in Mali? Answer 1: Not very well. Official pickup is sporadic, and people tend to just drop trash wherever.
Answer 2: when they do pick it up, trash is handled creatively and energetically.
Maybe more creatively than we do in Eugene, Oregon.
Here’s where 46% of our trash ends up:
Reclaimed, reused, recycled.
In another Malian city, Mopti, a former plague of plastic bags is transformed into paving stones:
A video of a Bamako dump, being sorted by hand. Don’t miss the boy in the Obama tee shirt, perusing his prize find:
May your next picnic clean-up be inspired by Malians, not Betty Draper.