I must get this off of my mind.
There is a wall of garbage in the streams and waterways of the slums of Port au Prince, which floats up after large rainstorms and spills out onto the streets and walkways. This garbage is largely plastic bottles and Styrofoam. I'm not talking a few bottles. Or a few Styrofoam plates. I'm talking thousands and thousands and thousands.
If you ever wondered what happens to that plastic bottle from your springwater, or the Styrofoam container from your takeout dinner, please remember these photographs. The bottles disposed of in these Port au Prince waterways gradually wash out to sea. In the center of the Pacific ocean, there is now apparently an area twice the size of Texas which, due to overlapping ocean currents, traps a floating island of waste. This waste circulates, gradually disintegrates, and forms plasticized sand and particles, now fed upon by marine animals, and disrupting the nutrition of wildlife. In containers that fail to wash away, in the neighborhoods of Port au Prince, small pools of stagnant water are trapped-- each becoming a small, floating incubator in which the mosquitoes carrying Dengue "Breakbone" fever lay their numerous larvae. For a thousand reasons -- aesthetic, environmental, biological, and humanitarian -- this litter has devastating consequences.
There is no plastic recycling in Haiti. Apparently, the President of the country is aware of this extreme plastic trash disposal problem -- so severe that he actually refused the delivery of relief drinking water in plastic bottles in the days after the earthquake.
I would like to propose an idea...but have no idea how to implement it. Perhaps one of you readers might have some idea how to go forth. If a recycled plastic bottle is worth 5 cents American, one could make a massive profit by collecting hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles. Consider paying Haitians a penny per plastic bottle they collect. If the average Haitian makes approximately two American dollars per day of hard labor, it is very likely he or she would be willing to make the same by collecting 200 plastic bottles. Reimburse them a dollar for each hundred bottles. Then take the bottles and recycle them. Grind them up, melt them down, and turn them into plastic tarps. Or turn them into plasticized, wood-like building products -- flexible enough to withstand hurricane force winds and the tremors of earthquakes; such materials are used to make public benches and decks, as visible in American National Parks. There are may ways to recycle and reuse these products. And to do so would get the garbage off the streets and out of the waterways. And possibly provide an income and an industry for the people of Haiti.
Anybody know how to pursue this dream? A win-win-win situation for Haiti?
Anyone interested in starting a plastic recycling center?