Better Barters

Swapping Trash for Fresh Produce

Mexico City’s innovative monthly Mercado del Trueque (barter market) in Chapultepec Park is a winning trifecta for citizens, local vegetable and plant vendors and the city’s secretariat of the environment. There, residents can exchange cardboard, paper, glass, aluminum, plastic bottles, electronic devices and other waste for paper chits that are redeemed at kiosks for vouchers worth points.

The traders can then use the vouchers to buy tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, lemons and other produce from participating farmers from surrounding districts. Mexico produces 40 million tons of garbage annually, but only recycles about 15 percent. With this barter system, farmers have gained a new place to sell their produce and earn extra income, while the materials collected are processed for industrial reuse.


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