Here’s an interesting update from the GAIA folks in Copenhagen:

Wastepickers groups present in the meeting organized an action to show the organizers and participants of COP15 how to properly sort their waste.

Written by Lucia Fernandez in Spanish, English translation by Christie.

Wastepickers teach UN how to properly sort waste

Among so many suits, ties, and Colgate smiles, as if nothing was happening and the world had yet another replacement globe that was waiting in the wings, the recyclers of India and Latin America taught people how they have been earning a living with dignity for dozens of years with the cry of Let’s recycle, not incinerate.

It seems unbelievable, but the environmentalists of the world and the official delegates from different nations couldn’t separate their wastes correctly into different bins. So all the waste that was produced by people every day in the Bella Center (the place where the UNFCCC COP15 talks are being held) ended up mixed inside four different containers, which were supposedly for plastics, paper, organic waste, bottles, and other wastes.

So on Friday, December 11 at 6:30pm, after painting placards and banners on cardboard boxes that were reclaimed from some of the hundreds of informational booths at the center, the recyclers got down to business:

We, the poor nations, are teaching you how to mitigate climate change. The solutions that our countries need aren’t the supposed “clean energy” projects (of waste-to-energy incineration and landfilling), nor the carbon markets, since more than 15 million women and men earn a living from recycling. That’s why we invite you now to learn how we can protect the climate together

explained Exequiel Estay in name of the Global Alliance of Wastepickers, Recyclers and Allies.

With this, they carefully put the badly sorted waste over more cardboard boxes and in less than five minutes were able to leave everything well-separated so that it could be recycled.

We don’t believe in any case that this will be the future of such waste in Copenhagen, which paradoxically has incinerators emitting white smoke all over the place, but the idea was to give the world a lesson on how things can be done differently: in solidarity with the poorest and also with the environment.

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