By Stephen Messenger, TreeHugger
In many urban centers throughout the world, vibrant waste recycling programs aren’t just eco-minded niceties, they serve an essential role in keeping communities clean and clutter-free. But thanks to one forward-thinking initiative in the Brazilian city of Jundiaí, trading in trash has never been tastier.
Ten years ago, the city’s Municipal Utilities department launched “Delicious Recycling,” a program aimed at encouraging residents to get into the habit of collecting recyclable waste in exchange for fresh vegetables, grown locally in a public-run garden — and boy did it take off! Today, the garden boasts more than 30 thousand plants to meet the demand of thousands of veggie-loving recyclers, turning aluminum cans and plastic bottles into edible greens.
Ultimately, the program has done wonders for the health of the environment as well, by ridding the city of improperly disposed waste.
“What once cluttered and even choked the flow of water from storm drains is today used as currency for healthy food,” local mayor Miguel Haddad tells Jundiaí Online. “Everybody wins with this.”
As innovative as Jundiaí’s “Delicious Recycling” may seem, it’s actually not the first of its kind, but given the program’s success, it’s no wonder why. Though a number of other Brazilian municipalities offer similar incentives to reward recyclers with food, the idea seems to be catching internationally — like in Mexico City, where residents recently exchanged trash for nearly three tons of vegetables!