Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Consider the ecological footprint you leave in Belize after your vacation is over. Chances are that, after the jet fuel burned, your footprint’s chief component is a huge pile of plastic water bottles. If you’d rather not contribute to Belize’s volume of unnecessary solid waste (which, many agree, is the country’s top environmental problem), think about ways to make that pile smaller.
Do you order a new half-liter bottle with every meal instead of bringing your own larger one? Do you throw away every single bottle you buy, or do you refill them with purified water from the five-gallon jug in your hotel lobby?
Consider bringing your own reusable water bottle to Belize and reduce that pile of trash to nothing but banana peels and mango pits. When reusing a plastic bottle, you’ll want to disinfect it with a drop of bleach every couple of days (or ask your hosts to wash it with soap). Many health buffs say you should scrap the plastic altogether and only drink out of stainless steel water bottles.
Until 2000, beer and soda came in reusable glass bottles in Belize. That change with the introduction of soft drinks in plastic bottles by the country’s only major beverage distributor. Bowen & Bowen, Ltd. promised a recycling center to address the tonnage of plastic bottles bound to end up in landfills, along roads, and in the ocean, but has done little to make this happen.
Reports of plastic collection points and a Belizean recycling program come and go, though it is possible that someone is sending scraps to Mexico. Keep an eye out and follow the folks in Belize City with sacks of empties slung over their shoulders. Some businesses, especially in the Cayo District, refuse to sell plastic bottles at all until they can be properly disposed of or reused throughout Belize, as glass beer bottles still are. And no, drinking beer instead of water is not a sustainable solution.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition