Hesperian Health Guides
Community Clean-up and Resource Recovery
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Protecting our communities from harmful waste and turning waste into a resource improves community health, the environment, and also saves money. For example, a group of waste collectors in Argentina found that if all the waste paper in the city of Buenos Aires was collected and recycled, it would save $10 million US dollars a year. If this money was used to pay all of the waste collectors in the city, each person would earn over US $150 per month.
Every person and every community can take responsibility for reducing and safely disposing of waste. But, while communities can do a lot on their own, waste is a political problem that can only be solved when government, industry, and communities work together, with improving people’s health as the goal. Governments must act to reduce the burden of waste on people and the environment by requiring industry to manufacture products with as little waste as possible. Government support of programs to encourage people to reuse, recycle, and safely dispose of waste saves money, creates jobs, and helps solve community problems (see “A community trades trash for cash,” “Community composting and recycling,” “Resource recovery centers,” and “A town struggles with solid waste and wins”).