Haves and Have-Nots: Recycling the World Over

Recycled-Wheel Charcoal Grill  in La Antigua Guatemala

A simple photo of the doorway to Licuados Claudia in La Antigua Guatemala generates over 15 comments; I take one as the diving board for this entry.

Coltrane_lives commented: “… In my photo, out front of the store, there is a little type of grill with three legs welded to what looks to be a wheel from a car…”

Carolyn commented that we live in an Upside Down World, a reference to Eduardo Galeano’s book, and how North Americans and Europeans feel less guilty about the over-consumption which directly corresponds to what Central Americans don’t have.

There you have it: The haves and have-nots and recycling. 😉

I remember a scene in the Mahatma Gandhi film in which Gandhi and the British administration are negotiating their exit out of India and the British said to Gandhi something like: “All we want is for India to be civilized, like England” and Gandhi responded that if a small island with a small population on the north Atlantic Ocean needed to have an empire made up of colonies throughout the world to be civilized and to maintain their lifestyle, how many planets would be necessary to keep a large nation with a large population like India with the same lifestyle as England? I don’t know if Mahatma Gandhi ever uttered such words as I did not find such passage in his autobiography book. However, just last week a woman from India, nonetheless, said the westerners’ lifestyle is harmful for earth and that if the whole world opted for such a lifestyle, we would need four or five planets to barely keep up. What an inconvenient truth! For the foreseeable future, having a few planets to spare is out of the question (I think); no third world or even a second world here, you know.

There you have it: The have-nots can not have what the haves have.

Thus, the have-nots have to recycle as much as possible; more out necessity than conscientiousness. So, old wheels become charcoal grills, cans become pots, retired school buses become colorful public transit chicken buses, vehicles considered junk in the U.S. are driven 6,000 kilometers for an extended life in Central America. And so on, the list is so long I would need a few months just to highlight all the things we recycle from the U.S. and Canada. All of this recycling takes away from the embellishment and beauty of the “third world”; or perhaps it adds the exotic flare of these little poor countries. But, somebody has to take recycling seriously; let the “third world” do it, right?!

There you have it: The have-nots are recycling the world over.

Oh man! this guy Eduardo Galeano has it all right: we live in an Upside Down World. Maybe, we ought to read some of his other books like Las venas abiertas de América Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America); for starters.

Besides reading and watching the avalanche of material about recycling, being eco-friendly, et-cetera, what do you think are solid and fair solutions to end this vicious circle of haves and have-nots without destroying our only planet in the process?

© 2008 – 2017, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • sompopo

    Haven’t you heard, Obama the Messiah has promised to “Change” everything on this planet so no worries.

  • Rudy, I’m curious. Which are you? A have or have not? And do you take all your recyclibles to the recycling center? My bet is that you do. This webpage is even made out of 100% recycled electrons!

  • First, my apologies for a bit of cut and paste commenting. I have been doing the rounds via Bloglines and looking at all the pictures from my favourite photo blogs, but haven’t been leaving comments. Generally, I try to comment as much as I can (I know how good it is for ‘morale’ to know that someone is out there appreciating them), but after the birth of my second son, I am a bit knackered to think up something witty and insightful on the hop. Thus the resort to Control+C and Control+P!

    Kris from Hobart, Tasmania.

  • @Sompopo, I do hope you will be voting for Obama in the next presidential elections if you really want a positive change for you country and the rest of the world. 🙂

    @Scott, I am glad you still with us… I have thought I scared you away last September. I am delighted that you still “curious” about which box I should be put on. You know you are always welcome to LAGDP; this “ecological green” site is as much yours as it is mime. 😉

    @Kris, thanks for your copy-n-paste feedback. I know how busy agendas can sometimes keep us from commenting… I know because that’s my case most of the time. By the way, congratulation on the birth of your second son; may your family be little merrier.

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  • Stephanie

    This image and your reflections have been on my mind for days now. I recall when you raised this issue before with another provocative photo. I wish I had a real, concrete suggestion, but I don’t.

    What needs to happen? Less consumerism by those of us who are the “haves”. Yet how do we do that? It would take a radical, upending revolution of thought and culture. And while that would mean we would be using resources less extravagantly, it wouldn’t necessarily change anything for the “have nots” unless there was also redistribution of resources and systemic changes to level the playing field.

    I am challenged by your images and reflections, yet I also sit here in my home one year after moving from a comfortable but small (by middle class US standards) home to a comfortable and large home. Why did we move to a bigger home? Because it was available, we could afford it, and we knew it would allow us greater ease in daily living. Individually, it wasn’t a bad choice — but it is part of a much bigger picture that has so much wrong with it.

    Another person made a comment about recycling. I do think that’s important, but I also think it’s a panacea. We can feel good about our little green or blue tubs sitting out on the curb with our recyclables, but if we then go and consume more we are no further ahead as a society and world.

    So what is an answer? I don’t know. But I haven’t given up trying to find one.

  • Stephanie


    I’m also challenged by the knowledge that the have-havenot divide is also present in my own country. One in six children in the US live in poverty. Some of them live in gut-wrenching, life-threatening poverty. There are still homes in Appalachia with no running water. The poverty continues in part because we have children graduating from high school who still cannot read — a literacy report that was released a couple of years ago found that 50% of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate; in Mississippi I think it was about 35%.

    So if we cannot create equity in our own country I’m not sure how we will do it globally. But, again, I haven’t given up.

  • coltrane_lives

    Hey Rudy, Just catching up on a lot of photos I’ve missed since my work has taken me away lately. Thanks for this great follow-up. As always, your photos and commentaries intrigue and are great dialogue starters.

  • @Stephanie, thanks for your great commentary and feedback. I’ve thought nobody have read or cared about this entry. I am glad I was wrong.

    @Coltrane_lives, welcome back and feel free to comment and past entries; I like when people do that because they bring forth an entry that may be forgotten already.

  • i’m not always sure who are the haves and who are the have nots. happiness seems to be paramount on the list of “things desired” when defining what would make for a better life.

    that said… i know i won’t be truly happy until i have one of those car wheel barbecue grills. (i’m sort of teasing but sort of not teasing)


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