Checking in from EL SALVADOR

12 03 2010

Conversation of the day (while riding and speaking with an El Salvadorian cyclist on the road):

Me: “Is that a volcano up there?”

Him: “Yeah. The San Miguel Volcano.”

Me: “Is it active?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Isn’t that smoke, though? You can’t even see the top of the volcano.”

Him: “That´s just because so many people are burning their trash.”


It’s true. I recently saw groups of students and teachers cleaning up trash at the side of the highway. I thanked them for their work as I passed. Then, the farther I pedaled the smokier the air became, and it became evident that the piles of garbage they were collecting was being burned in the gutters.

So I find myself wondering: In places where there is no trash management system in place, what’s worse? 1) Littering or 2) Cleaning up garbage and using trashcans only to burn the garbage afterwards?