Litter on the Path to Peace: The Causes and Consequences of Trash in Nicaragua

Kerry Bergin, SIT Study Abroad

Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society


In Nicaragua, trash is everywhere. It’s spilling from the flood drains and piling on abandoned lots. In Managua, the existence of trash has created a scavenging culture of over 1,000 people. Plastic bottles and empty sandwich bags line highways and street gutters, erupting in swirls of dust, smoke, and plastic as busses and cars speed by. The passengers add to the piles by tossing their trash from bus windows: wrappers and bottles constructed in the cheapest way possible. They will take years to disintegrate, if they’re not burned first. After the coffee harvest, coffee plant remains make wasteful mountains on monocrop farms. Among the beautiful lakes and volcanoes of Nicaragua, why is there so much littering, burning, and wasting? Where did all of the trash come from, and where should it go? With these questions in mind, I began an investigation of the consequences of trash in Nicaragua today, and their historical causes.