May 7, 2008

A Green Puerto Rico? Recycling and Environmental Care (or lack of!)

I know this is another El Nuevo Día inspired post, but this is one of the most optimistic things I've seen on there in a while. There's an article about new efforts to found a trash collecting, recycling, and re-forestation program in Carolina, called Carolina Bella ("Beautiful Carolina").

For a place known as a natural paradise, Puerto Rico has a ridiculously bad track record with the environment. I don't know if and where there is much information on this, but I can tell you from personal experience that it's a non-issue for most of the people living there. Unfortunately in many areas there is trash everywhere and recycling basically doesn't exist.

I have a friend who got a temporary job over the summer with the government in which she had to go from house to house surveying people about recycling. She told me, sounding more than a bit frustrated, that over the course of several days not a single person had expressed interest in recycling. Not only that, but some people actually started explaining why they opposed recycling and how they would much rather just throw everything away, even if the government provided bins for recycling and pickup every week. She then started to wonder why it was that people were so stubbornly against it, without coming up with an answer.

If I had to take a stab, I would say that a lot of Puerto Ricans are very comfortable in an exaggerated imitation of American lifestyle--SUV, cable television, and piles of garbage included. In their minds, any change, no matter how small, suggests a threat to all of this, which honestly many families have worked very hard to obtain. This doesn't mean that a change in this mentality is unreachable, just that it may be more difficult to achieve. I don't know what other reasoning would be behind this. Any guesses? I'd be interested in hearing some different opinions.

Anyways, good for Carolina, making change. While Carolina is one of the richest municipalities on the island, hopefully others will find the funds and ambition to follow and more emphasis can finally be placed on the land's most important resource.

Please, if you have any, share ideas for what could stimulate change in Puerto Rico's relation with the environment, since I know this is a hot topic for bloggers. Thoughts?


Petra H said...

We have had big problems trying to find somewhere to recycle our paper and glass - the empty bottles are piling up under the sink because we feel soooo bad about throwing them out.
I asked everybody we met, neighbours, colleagues of O etc and it seems finally that we have found a place - will check it out this weekend!!
It feels so bad for an European (well, a Swede at least, don't know about the Spaniard) to throw away stuff that we have been recycling for the last 20 years or so. And we refuse to bring home our groceries in 15 different plastic bags - we bring our own, recycled bags to the supermarkets!

Speaking Boricua said...

How do the cashiers react to your bags? Haha!

Anonymous said...

I just moved here (Condado) and echo everyone's words. Are there local groups trying to take that little step that could bring forth change?

Stand_Back said...

We just moved to Carolina from New York and Chicago and is killing us to throw things in the "garbage." Where is this recycling center in/near Caroline/San Juan, PR.????


Elissa Chazdon said...

Moved here a few months ago and am also begnning to be awash in glass bottles. Thankfully plastic, metal and paper are picked up at the curb but am struggling to find a solution for the glass. I know that these posts are from many years ago, but am hoping that someone has found a place to recycle glass. Thanks in advance!!

Carolyn G. said...
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