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A Volunteer’s Journal: A Better Way to Waste in Honduras

Michael Klatt is a CRS volunteer who helped create a waste management project in Honduras. He is currently completing his volunteer work at the Diocese of Chicago, Illinois communicating to parishes about Honduras and CRS. His blog is part of a series of personal reflections our volunteers are sharing from their journey and experience overseas.

Working for several years as a manager at the Four Seasons in Chicago, I had the chance to see various celebrities and movie stars. But nothing impressed me more than the people I met while working as a volunteer in Honduras.

I started my volunteer work in August of 2006 and worked with a CRS partner, COCEPRADIL (pronounced: cose say pra dill). It was originally planned that I would assist with water projects. However, one afternoon I made my way out towards the western mountains to view the sunset and stumbled across the dumping site for the town. It was a little smaller than the size of a football field. The garbage still smoldered from the fire that continuously burned, even if it wasn’t visible. There were vultures and dogs. It smelled horrible. I was so sad to see the incredible natural beauty of the country stained like this.

One of the biggest contaminants in the town was plastic soda bottles from Pepsi. I began to fill my backpack with bottles that I encountered on the street as I went about my day. I started to work at the dumping site a few days each week. Less than 10% of towns and cities in Honduras have a form of dealing responsibly with waste. Most garbage is deposited at a random dump site. It is burned, blown away by winds or washed into the rivers by the rains. Less than 1% of the cities or towns in Honduras have a form of recycling.

the recycling site

Here is a shed that was constructed at the recycling site to hold items until pick-up.

The local community is made up of about 300 houses and 2500 residents. Catholic Relief Services made available $5,000 so that we could begin construction for a site to collect waste and recyclable items. In the first phase, we constructed a protective fence, a shed and have organized the community into 6 sections. Each community is responsible for organizing their residents and verifying that they are using the recyclable containers that they have been issued. There will be a nursery to provide income by selling exotic flowers, seeds and coffee plants. This allows for partial reforestation of the site and beautification of the town.

This project will make the town sparkle and protect residents from disease. We are managing plastic bottles in the town so that they can be recycled. We are building a compactor which will allow us to collect plastics and recyclables from surrounding communities. Teachers and students from the local schools have been involved in “general town cleanings” every two months. Families and youth collect plastic bottles in large sacks in order to earn a little money, but also to help with the project.

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3 Responses to “A Volunteer’s Journal: A Better Way to Waste in Honduras”

  1. Mary Beth Klatt Says:

    Interesting…I’d love to see more pictures, including close-up shots.

  2. David Says:

    I am comming to Honduras and I want to work on waste management projects. So please continue the good work and let us know how it is going.

  3. Ron Niehaus Says:

    I work with Engineers without Borders, and we are going to be startig a similar project in another town. Do you have any more information on how you plan to do the compaction.

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