How to Talk About Garbage, Waste, and What’s in Your Trash Can in Spanish
Do you know how to discuss what’s in your trash can in Spanish? What about the word “trash can” itself? Believe it or not, there are more ways than one to say this word! El bote de basura might be one of the most common terms you’ll find in most Latin American countries. Others are la basura, la papelera, el cubo de basura and el zafacón.
Which of these words meaning “trash can” in Spanish have you heard?
Trash, garbage, waste or refuse—whatever you call it, it might not be something you think a lot about. But, the fact that is, garbage affects us and our environment in many ways, including its impact on climate change, its impending detriment to public health and its encroachment on the safety of wildlife.
Luckily, the proper disposal or recycling of trash has become a hot topic that you hear about more often now than ever. Many people are starting to make educated changes in the way they dispose of trash. If you’re ready to jump into the discussion with others about garbage, waste, and what’s overflowing from the trash can in Spanish, then you’ve come to the right place.
So, in this blog post, we’ll learn a bit about garbage management practices in Latin America, cover garbage vocabulary in Spanish, and explore fun activities to do that teach Spanish alongside green education.
¡Aprendamos sobre la basura!
Garbage Management in Latin America
Many Latin American countries are still developing and growing, which makes waste management a big challenge. The good thing is that different concepts such as becoming green, eco-friendly, and recycling are becoming more common in these countries. Ultimately, governments, the private sector, and the general public are becoming aware of the problems that waste is generating and will continue to generate if we don’t make a change. Many countries in Latin America are also aware of the benefits they can get from good waste management policies and practices.
For many years, as many countries around the world, people in Latin America got rid of their garbage by gathering it up, carting it out of their living environment and dumping or burying it. As more people lived in more populated areas, contaminated garbage created health problems. In spite of disease, the system worked because trash was more biodegradable than it is now.
But the time of naturally decomposing garbage came to an end in the last century when the invention of plastics came. The problem with this synthetic material is that it doesn’t decompose when thrown away. While they never fully break down, many of these materials emit toxins that cause serious harm to the environment and human health.
Many products come in packages that create trash and are manufactured by industries that produce hazardous waste and polluted water in almost inconceivable quantities. And in Latin America many people don’t have access to education and don’t know how important it is not to litter. But, incredibly so, the U.S produces twice as much trash as developing countries do. Why? Because people in the North American country have grown accustomed to convenience. The U.S produces 4.9 pounds of garbage per person per day.
The problem is that garbage is catching up with us. We have household waste, industrial waste, human waste and nuclear waste. All over the world, people are working harder and harder to find where to put so much trash. But our health and the health of the environment are demanding that we do something about this problem. Learning where our waste goes is the first step. Then we can find more sustainable solutions for ourselves and future generations.
Garbage, Waste, and Trash Can in Spanish Vocabulary
Have you thought much about what’s in your trash can in Spanish or in your basurero? Well, garbage is definitely something we all make and throw away so, let’s take a closer look at what’s in our trash can in Spanish so that we can learn fun, new Spanish vocabulary.
As you now know, there are several ways to say trash can in Spanish but there are also other important vocabulary words related to trash that you should definitely know.
|Trash or garbage||La basura|
|Recyclable materials||Los materiales reciclables|
|Cardboard||El cartón o la cartulina|
|Grass||La grama o el césped|
|Food scraps||Los restos de comida|
|Dumpster||El contenedor de basura|
|Organic waste||El residuo orgánico|
|Food waste||El residuo alimentario|
|Green waste||La basura orgánica|
|Electronic waste||Los residuos electrónicos|
|Carbon footprint||La huella de carbono|
Green Trash and How to Reduce Garbage
Green trash or basura orgánica is also known as biological waste. It is organic garbage that can be composted and used as fertilizer. Green waste does not include dried leaves or hay since it has been dried. But anything green can be composted and that’s why it’s called green waste.
The amount of trash produced in the world is enormous but there are many institutions and foundations trying to help. We can all help. When it comes to garbage reduction, it’s all about the three R’s:
- reducir (reduce)
- reusar (reuse)
- reciclar (recycle)
If we all reduce, reuse and recycle, we can conserve resources!
This “R” means you stop waste before it starts! I truly believe this to be the best solution because it’s going to the root of the problem. Let’s take a look at some ways to reducir in Spanish:
Consumir menos productos “de usar y tirar.”
Consume fewer “throw-away” products.
Generar menos basura.
Generate less trash.
Reusar productos plásticos.
Reuse plastic products. English translation.
I’ve seen more people do this in Latin America than in the US, likely because a lack of resources leads to becoming more greener.
Reusar papel de empaque, bolsas de papel o periódico para forrar libros. Oración en español.
Reuse wrapping paper, paper bags or newsprint for book covers.
Reusar botellas de agua.
Reuse water bottles.
Reusar cualquier producto plástico antes de tirar a la basura.
Reuse any plastic product before throwing it away.
This “R” is perhaps the more well known of them all. Surprisingly, recycling dates back to the 1600s in the US. To recycle means to turn something old into something new. And many people—such as these international companies—have found that recycling can be an easy way to make money.
Reciclar las latas, las botellas y el papel antes de tirarlos en la basura.
Recycle cans, bottles, and paper instead of throwing them away.
Convertir leña y basura de jardín en abono.
Compost wood and yard clippings.
Reciclar ropa y donarla a personas necesitadas.
Recycle by donating clothes to people in need.
Activities to Practice Spanish and Learn About Trash
This is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids and ourselves how to become greener whilst practicing Spanish at home.
1. Basurero de Reciclaje (Recycling bin)
You can start by having one basurero de reciclaje so that you can ease into the recycling process. Make sure all these Items are recycling and if you have the time, try to have everyone say what they put in the trash can in Spanish.
2. Día de Naturaleza (Nature day)
Go out in the yard and pick up branches, dry flowers, and twigs and put them in a compost bin, while naming them in Spanish. Include Spanish words like flor, basurero, árbol, ramas, etc. You can have a nature day and get as creative as you’d like.
3. Categorize Your Trash
Are you into categorizing trash so you can recycle? Well, that’s great because you can do it in Spanish. This is a great way to review new vocabulary and recycle in the process. You and your family can write the names in Spanish and label all your bins. This way you’ll know what goes where and review new words.
4. Play Charades with New Vocabulary
Write down different trash and waste words in pieces of paper and then randomly choose one and play charades in whichever way you’d like. If everyone in the house is learning Spanish, try to only use Spanish! If not, have both Spanish and English words. It’s a great and fun game to play and learn.
5. Have a Recycling Contest
Have a recycling contest with friends and family by encouraging everyone at home to recycle and have a board with stickers for everytime someone recycles. The one with the most stickers after the contest is over, wins! And to make it even more interesting, try speaking en Español. And if you don’t feel ready, translate new words and add them to your Spanish vocabulary so that you can learn new food, materials and containers.
6. Create Something New
There are many things that can be reused and repurposed. Get creative and make something new. Make sure to name all the different items in Spanish or maybe even label them so that you can name all the things that you decide to do. You can even create art!
7. Tell a Story
This has always been one of my favorite activities! Telling a story is always a great way to test your skills. Have everyone choose an item that can be recycled and tell a story in Spanish. If you don’t feel like you can, try to use as many Spanish words as you can remember. It can be about recycling, trash, reusing something, etc. If there are words you don’t know, make sure to write them down and learn more new words in Spanish.
You Know What’s in Your Trash Can in Spanish
Now you know how to describe what’s in your trash can in Spanish as well as different activities you can do to practice vocabulary with your family. Which one will you try first? What do you see in your basurero and how many words can you say in Spanish related to waste?
Discussing what’s in your trash can in Spanish can be a fascinating way to learn new Spanish words while you get an impactful glimpse at the habits in your home—considering that if you observe your trash, you can see how healthy or unhealthy you eat, how heavily you rely on non-recyclable materials, and how much more you could be reusing.
Do you think your trash says a lot about you? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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