Throughout much of the developing world, pay as you go cell phones have revolutionized lives. I’ve seen it in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean where nearly everyone has a mobile phone. They have literally leap-frogged over years of development.
Telecommunications providers in these countries have found it is easier to build cell towers than it is to string land lines. That makes perfect sense. And, with the ability to sell cards with “minutes” on them, users can recharge their phone whenever they run out.
While the ability to communicate is (probably) a positive advance, around me I see evidence of a negative one, too. Water quality in a place like Puerto Lempira, Honduras is low so bottlers are purifying and importing water and soft drinks. Obviously, access to clean water is a good thing. But what is truly troubling is the amount of plastic trash on the ground and in the water. This is a beautiful lush rain forest. The water just a few yards from homes is filled with fish and shrimp for the taking. Mangoes literally fall from the trees (I was nearly hit several times yesterday).
But, this plastic trash just stacks up and gets thrown in the water and nothing is done about it. As we first approached Kalkira, I saw piles of bottles floating in the water.
Leaving the village, Elmer pointed out a sign that says, basically, “Put Trash in Its Place”. But, the trash can beneath it was overflowing with plastic bottles and the ground around it was covered. Just after I took a picture of it, a boy grabbed a rake and piled up all the bottles—and then burned them. And this was literally feet from the water. I don’t even want to think about the chemicals he released into the air and then breathed as he tended the fire, and what else leaked straight into the water.
Elmer suggested that the ships that deliver cargo to these villages could then pick up the bottles and take them to La Ceiba for recycling. (He is going to recommend this to a friend who owns a boat making deliveries to La Moskitia) I would like to see the soft drink bottlers (Coca-Cola was the primary brand) take responsibility and work to clean up this trash. They are making plenty of money selling Cokes and Dasani water here, they need to reinvest some of it for the future of the people and the environment..