Cubans are pretty innovative in recycling items; especially plastic bags, cans and bottles are well used, used again and the reused for something else. I also like their system for selling things without containers, wrapping and plastic bags so that the customer has to bring their own. Well the other day we went to get ice cream and did not bring any container, so a 50 cent plastic bag did its job holding ice cream balls until they were put in glasses at home. Plasic bags are called “nylon” and they are used as shopping bags, food containers, soaking hair color in and for many more.
Trash is collected to a plastic bag in front of the houses, then thinking of the heat and throwing away food waste such as banana skin gives you an idea how it smells like sometimes. Some houses that have dogs or pigs can feed leftovers to the animals, which is good and makes less waste. The trash bag is then taken to the street on a day when the trash truck arrives and they dump what is inside of the bag and leave the bag on the street again. Doing it this way instead of throwing the bag itself of course leaves some trash on the street and often you can see people cleaning the street in front of their house clear of this waste. Some people just dump their waste on the street but that is illegal. Trash collection depends on the neighborhood, some areas do not allow leaving trash on the street and the truck will ring a bell to inform people to bring the bags out. However, Cuba is using way less plastic waste than western countries, maybe we should rethink our packing and waste management and learn from Cuba.
Cubans have no sense of keeping things clean, if I ask about tossing trash on the street the usual answer is “because everyone else do it too”. There are public trash bins around though, but people seem not use them. Some areas that are heavier populated by tourists are of course kept clean, such as beaches in Varadero. On a smaller non touristy beach you really have to watch out for pieces of glass and other dangerous items.