Recycling in Panama

Snapshot of several trash containers specially designed to recycle trash in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

During my walkabouts around to city to do my errands or take pictures for my blog,  I often return home disappointed and visibly irritated due to the amount of waste I see scattered everywhere; (e.g., parks, streets, streams, beaches, sidewalks, rivers, and so on and so forth).  We have to put an end to this trend of littering which is contaminating our environment.

Many of our rivers, streams and beaches are so polluted they are off-limits for human use.  The fish is polluted as well, and not safe for human consumption.  When are we going to stop this irrational behavior that will eventually lead to a collective environmental suicide?

Fortunately, there seems to be a small light at the end of this long and dark tunnel.  At the Coastal Strip, I noticed several trash containers specially designed to recycle debris.  I spotted stainless steel containers for plastics, paper, metals, glass and organic matter.  I wish this trend would spread throughout the country to insure that our communities learn the value of clean environments and therefore, a healthier life for our population.  Am I day dreaming?  Good Day.


12 thoughts on “Recycling in Panama”

    1. Omar,
      Unfortunately I am not from your beautiful Panama, but my “Amen” was in regards to the area where I live. I feel the same way that you do as far as we have to put an end to the trend of littering. I have seen litter all over the ground that is 2 feet away from trash containers located at bus stops and nice grocery stores. What is with that? No entiendo!

      1. Hi Dee:

        I understand exactly what you mean, Dee. In my humble opinion, what you describe in a culture gone sour. we have to break those harmful attitudes through strong family values and a solid education system. Children are excellent learners, but they have to be guided properly.

        BTW. Dee is a nice name. I like it. 🙂



  1. Yeah. Good luck with that. I remember this conversation when I was growing up in Panama and the 1970s and 1980s. There’s always been a vocal voice for protecting the environment in Panama, especially when the very real effects of deforestation were no longer deniable, but it’s been a small group.

    I am still hoping that the powers that be, leverage the Catholic Church’s stand on protecting the environment with effective marketing. Maybe the spiritual component will move some more people?

    It’s a tough, but necessary lift.

    1. Morning Michelle:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel embarrassed when foreign visitors visit our country and see the ocean of garbage floating around our cities. It’s a hideous sight that should and must be stopped. The Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church and other religious groups, the Lion’s Club, the political community and the ordinary citizen should get involved. We can not continue this irresponsible way and ruin our countries and our planet. It’s totally insane.

      Thank you for your comment.


  2. Hi Michelle:

    Way to go, Michelle. Thanks a bunch for the words of encouragement. As you know, things move pretty slow in the Tropics. But push we must in order to get things done. We have to fight inertia accumulated over the last one hundred years of status quo, if you know what I mean.

    Que Tengas un Excelente Día!


  3. Those containers are a great idea, Omar, but it remains to be seen not whether people actually use them, but if someone is going to come around and empty them regularly.

    The trash problem here is one of the very few things that bothers me about the country. Many people treat their homeland as a trash can. I’ve seen people on the bus open a window and throw things out on the highway. This afternoon I was talking to an older Panamanian on the bus on the way home from David and we talked about this problem quite a bit. You know, back when I was a kid in the States we had the same problem. Then Lady Bird Johnson initiated a campaign to clean up the highways. Things are 1000 times better now, but it took an entire generation for it to sink in.

    But for all the pollution of the rivers I don’t think one has yet caught fire like the Cayahoga River in Ohio did once from the pollution it had in it.

  4. Hi Richard:

    The amount and widespread of trash contamination in Panama City generated this blog post. I’m sick and tired of this problem that is getting bigger and bigger as time passes. We have to do something, the sooner the better. I don’t know who reads this blog, but I hope it reaches enough people in Panama to start a chain reaction.

    I’ve written letters to City Hall, but haven’t received any answer from them. I agree that this is a long-term problem which will probably take more than one generation to solve it.

    Thank you for your concern.



  5. The most widespread problem is high levels of nutrient pollution, caused by phosphorus and nitrogen washing into rivers and streams from farms, cities, and sewers.

  6. Back in the day, Texas used to be trashy. I’m thinking of the early 1970s, when I first moved here. But for years there has been an anti-litter campaign rooted in feelings of state pride, and it’s done a magnificent job of helping to clean things up. Yes, there still is some litter around, but when I see it now I’m surprised, because it’s the exception and not the rule.

    There have been dozens of wonderful radio and television spots. Here’s just one.

  7. Hello Linda:

    That is exactly what we need, a blitzkrieg of the media flooding the country with anti-litter messages so it will sink into the national psyche. I know it will not be done overnight but it has to start sooner or later, the sooner the better. It’s disgusting to see mountains of trash sprouting everywhere throughout the city. We can do better. I know we can.

    Willie Nelson is an excellent conduit for the anti-litter campaign. Never saw it before. Thanks!



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