Megan Wood


How Living in Paraguay Taught Me to Get Creative With My Trash

In Paraguay there is no garbage system at all, only personal responsibility.

I’d spent my life thoughtlessly throwing trash in a garbage can, knowing trash services came to my house regularly to carry away what I didn’t want. Sure, I learned in school about landfills and recycling and I thought I was a green person. But I’d never seen my personal trash accumulate; it was just taken away, never to be seen again. I assumed it would always be this way. Then I moved to Paraguay.

For two years I lived as a volunteer in the South American country. Paraguay doesn't have government-regulated garbage pickup, or septic systems that can handle toilet paper. What to do? At first, I simply bagged my banana peels, empty juice boxes, and other secret garbage that I'd never given a second thought to in the United States, and tossed it all in the trash cans at the center of town. I assumed the government would be along shortly to empty them. The garbage trucks never came.

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