Since early spring, grocery stores have been getting Barilochenses ready to give up plastic bags. In August, each customer could have up to four plastic bags. By the time we arrived in November, grocery stores would only give out one plastic bag per customer. And starting today, customers need to provide their own means for carrying away purchases. Bravo!
While Bariloche gets props for being ahead of the vast majority of U.S. cities in reducing use of plastic bags, I wonder how far the city is from adopting the kind of curbside recycling program most urban Americans take for granted. Club Andino Bariloche, a mountaineering club located in the center of town, has some small bins next to a bus stop for paper, glass and plastic, but the bins look full of trash. There is a notice in a free tourist map titled “Campaign to Separate Garbage,” which describes the benefits of separating organic waste from inorganic trash, but it says nothing about what to do with the waste after it has been separated. And then there is the open pit burning we saw on our drive out of town last weekend.
Bariloche’s greatest assets are its stunning natural scenery and large, deep lakes full of clear water, yet efforts to protect the environment appear to be as woefully inadequate as in the United States (says the person who got to Bariloche on an international flight, an extremely non-renewable resource-intensive way to travel).