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Mexicans barter trash for food

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Mexicans barter trash for food

Post  Panda on Tue 26 Jun - 7:37

'Trash for food' at Mexico City barter marketBy Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
June 19, 2012 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Residents of Mexico City are embracing a creative recycling program that is turning trash into food. The Mexican capital is home to more than 20 million people ...
... who combined create a mountain of trash. An estimated 12,600 metric tons was being deposited daily in the Bordo Poniente landfill site before it closed late last year. Now, a new barter scheme called Mercado de Trueque is incentivizing residents to recycle more waste. Jose Luis Aranda is one of thousands of locals embracing the government scheme. Aranda and his housemates gather glass, plastic and cardboard and take it to the city's Chapultepec Park.
The items are separated, weighed and emptied into recycling bins.
In return, Aranda and his friends receive 300 "green points" between them. The vouchers are exchanged for fresh food produced by local farmers, who are subsidized by the local government.
For Aranda it's not just about buying vegetables to eat. He also picked up baby lettuce plants which he says he will grow at home. "In a month, I'll have 14 big lettuces that I can come back and sell here," he says.
Aranda and a housemate leave the market with a haul of fresh vegetables and the satisfaction of knowing that recycling their unwanted waste has proved profitable for them and the local environment.
Mexico City's huge, infamous Bordo Poniente landfill site was receiving 12,600 tons of waste a day -- one and a quarter times the weight of the Eiffel Tower -- before it was shut down in December last year. But although the landfill is is no longer in operation, the city keeps churning out trash.

That's why the local government has launched several measures to reduce the waste created by the 20 million people who call the city home.

Trading waste for food The Mercado de Trueque began in March this year and has proved an instant hit with residents.

Jose Luis Aranda is one of thousands of locals who are now making regular visits to the market held once a month in the city's Chapultepec Park. Along with his housemates, Aranda brings along glass, plastic and cardboard waste, which is separated and weighed. He is then given vouchers, which can be exchanged at a nearby farmers' market.

The vendors at the market hail from local farms, adding the benefit of attracting shoppers to locally produced food.

For Aranda, it's not just about buying vegetables to eat. He also picks up baby lettuce plants, which he plans to grow at home and sell at the market when he visits again.

If he does, it would bring the city's plan full circle, essentially turning trash into food.

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