Thursday, May 18, 2006

More on rain, plus garbage!

It sounds like half the US is about to float away, but here in Jakarta we could use some rain. It's been muggy and cloudy for the last few days, and I feel like I'm walking around in Cambpell's Cream of Pollution Soup ("Now with Extra Grit!").

Whoever's burning this little pile of trash around the corner from our apartment isn't helping. The little kaki lima in the background is selling fruit (buah). Mmm! Garbage-smoked mangoes!

There seem to be two ways of dealing with garbage here. Well, three really. One is just to throw it wherever you like. The second is to put it in these little areas on the sidewalk delineated by low concrete walls. People seem to let the trash pile up till it's stinky, and then set it on fire. I'm not really sure if that's how it's supposed to work. Perhaps a more experienced Jakarta hand can explain?

The third option is garbage service. We pay $5 a month to have ours picked up. At least we assume it gets picked up ... otherwise someone is playing a trick on the gullible foreigners. But even garbage pickup is not a real solution. I just edited a little item in the Post that said the city of Bandung, about two hours from here, is literally drowning in trash. The dumps are full, so garbage is piling up on the streets and filling about a third of the central marketplace. One dump was closed in 2004 after a "garbage slide" killed more than a hundred people.

Most of the world is facing a garbage crisis, of course. It's just that here, the problems are more stark. Nobody has the time, resources, and organization to gloss over them. I don't know if that's better or worse. It's worse, of course, if you live on a garbage heap.


Mary K said...

Okay, so, I am a dork, but, I think this garbage issue is fascinating...have you thought about doing a documentary, series, something?

kopisusu2 said...

Yeah, we really wanted to do a documentary on this amazing dump outside Jakarta where A THOUSAND people live (or maybe it's two thousand) as trashpickers. A Dutch charity had set up a radio station by and for the children at the dump, to help with their homework and English studies and stuff. But we fear the station is defunct now.

Regardless, I do think the trash issue is fascinating, and I bet there are some good stories in it. Someone did a great series for NPR a while back on ragpickers in India. I'd love to do something like that.

mr_john said...

The trash issue is pretty depressing... Indonesia is about where London was 200 years ago. People aren't emptying their chamber pots over their balconies, but as far as waste management goes, anyone hoping to improve the situation is basically starting from scratch.

Putting rubbish in the bin makes us foreigners feel better (99% of locals, including foreigners who have been here too long don't bother), Jakarta produces so much trash a day that there's nowhere for it to go. There are no compactors or anything like that, so burning it is the only way to reduce the bulk.

Screw the air pollution.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are still a ways off here.