Keep This Bus Clean: Throw Your Garbage Out the Window

Primary tabs

Keep This Bus Clean: Throw Your Garbage Out the Window

The evolution of roadside waste streams as viewed from the back of a tandem bicycle.
tweet me:
Keep This Bus Clean: Throw Your Garbage Out the Window http://3bl.me/cgyamg
Friday, January 22, 2010 - 10:45am

CONTENT: Blog

The evolution of roadside waste streams as viewed from the back of a tandem bicycle.

In February 2009, my partner and I began our trash tour of Central America—on a tandem bicycle. Traveling by bike let us take in the local scenery with each pedal stroke. There were so many subtle variations in the landscape: one valley housed woodworkers, with carpenters making bedroom furniture and cabinets. In another valley, pottery and ornate ceramic birds lined the roadside (mmmm... fragile, heavy items... no purchases were made). The consistent theme, no matter where we rolled, was trash.

The composition of the trash lining the roads was mostly plastic bottles (and their plastic cousins). Close to a town. In town. Outside of town. Far away from town. Wherever we went, we saw plastic bottles all over. Anywhere there was a sign, "Keep our road clean," there was sure to be trash. Some of the waste, such as bags of rubbish and broken cd’s, were intentional. Other bits of waste just seemed simply careless. One man's business cards littered the side of the road for at least three kilometers. Was this curious propaganda for his business? Or had he just packed up his office and accidentally left his trunk open? Or was his kid mischievously chucking the cards out the window? I never found out his story, but one of his cards is archived in my journal.

Somewhere in Guatemala, I had to catch a bus into a town to pick up a bike part. Through the hustle and bustle typical of travel via public transportation (the smells, sounds, lurches around sharp corners, etc.), I looked up and saw the following sign at the front of the bus: “Keep This Bus Clean: Throw Your Garbage Out the Window.” Aha!, I thought. I’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. I had been focusing on the littered roadsides. Really, I should have been focusing on the clean busses.

I returned with the bicycle part, and we continued our pedal-powered journey. For the next few kilometers, I mused about how the snack wrappers on today’s roadsides used to be banana peels, mango pits, peanut shells, and banana leaves. 

Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.

GREENOP4185

Keywords: Guatemala | buses | evolution of waste | roadside waste | transportation | waste streams

CONTENT: Blog

parse.ly