What is resource conservation? It’s a little broad, right? Anything ranging from organic gardening to creative reuse. Anything from endangered species protection acts to alternative income generation. Here in Panama, these are some of the most important issues we see. Of these things, what is most important? What takes precedence?
One of the most important things drilled into your head as a Peace Corps Volunteer is flexibility and we sometimes don’t realize how it applies to our every day life outside of the job. Standard forms of recycling are next to impossible here – you can’t throw your bottles in a barrel and have the trash man collect it every Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
You can throw your banana peel under a tree and watch as it begins the decomposition process, but you can’t do that in your backyard in the US. I have opportunities here that I don’t have in the US, but the flipside is just as true. Things I took for granted in the US, from driving to the store whenever I needed something small, live music shows (that don’t involve an accordion), to trash collection and so many others, surprise me when I realized that they wouldn’t work in the third world.
So what’s the answer? Where do the first and third worlds collide? First world nations (other than Norway – but they’re an extreme case and deserve a million high fives) are almost famous for shipping out their trash. Third world nations are famous for burning their trash. So what’s the middle ground?The middle ground is Reduction and Reuse. Do you have a perfectly functional plastic bottle, but no recycling bin? Refill it with water! Stop buying so much soda! Or, if you’re feeling creative, make it into a vase or a planter. A can from your soup? Turn it into a pencil or candle holder. A wine bottle from a crazy night in? Make it a dry food container if you still have the cork, or burn off the top and have a candle holder and a glass. There are so many options to reducing your waste, reusing your trash and eliminating some of the contamination from landfills.
So Try Something New!