Disposable Society

Every Monday the Solid Waste Department picks-up all of the "escombro" in my neighborhood.  I often scoot along ahead of them and snatch what I can before the truck comes.  As a sculptor, it truly is "one man's garbage is another man's treasure," but some of the stuff I find is still in good condition. 

Some of it is perfectly good household decorations, furniture, barbeques, or even tools (for example).  They are thrown out, smashed up and deposited in our overflowing landfills.  40 to 50 times a year, in thousands of neighborhoods, all across Puerto Rico.  It is such a waste! 

Someone Will Save It

If people think that the government workers "save" any of it, regardless of condition, they are mostly mistaken. Sure I'm sure if something "primo" appears, they might save it, but in general, they do not.  It's not their concern. What people throw out is to be scooped up and thrown away.  It takes them too much time to sort through the artifacts and determine if something is serviceable.

They're an afterthought in a disposable society.  If it's of no value to someone, then it must be worthless.  It is no wonder that there are so few antique stores in Puerto Rico!  I've had discussions with people about this topic, and the general take-away is that rescuing something from the landfill is beneath the common Puerto Rican.  To do so, brings shame upon your family.

Need Is Ignored

Yet, there are families in Puerto Rico that survive off of what others discard.  We've all seen someone pushing a shopping cart down the street picking up aluminum cans in order to feed his family.  Recently I've seen sites open up that buy scrap metal.  There are usually lines of beaten pickup trucks loaded down with all types of metal.  Some of it is scavenged, and I'm sure some of it is stolen, but that's another problem all together.

I just wish that there was some way that neighborhoods could collect serviceable goods found in the "escombro" and donate it to a distributor.  The distributor couldn't pay for it, because people would then begin outright stealing, just to sell to these places.  So it has to be done from the simple perspective that there are families and organizations that could use the stuff that has been thrown out by the affluent.  If only we could find a way to collect it and send it to those that need it.

Yes, I know, I'm too idealistic.