Extreme Recycling | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Extreme Recycling

I love running across examples of Mexican economy and ingenuity. Take this jeep:


Say you lose your gas cap. You accidentally leave it at the gas station. Or somebody steals it. Or maybe you run into that perennial problem; vibrations from topes and cobblestones make it fall off. What would you do?

Well, what I'd do is go down to Grand Auto and fork over five bucks for a new cap. I mean, a tank of gas costs $20-$40. What's a five-dollar gas cap in the scheme of things? A minor inconvenience at best. If I can afford a car, I should be able to afford a minor repair.

But then I would be guilty of that wasteful Norteamericano mentality that says, "If it's broken, replace it with a new one."

The other night, I read a guideline issued to all Hewlett-Packard field technicians to the effect that if it takes more than 20 minutes to fix a printer, they should just quit and replace it. Otherwise, they're wasting the company's money.

That kind of thinking is incomprehensible to Mexicans. The idea in this country is that anything can be repaired, and it should be repaired as cheaply as possible. High marks are awarded for managing to fix something without actual expenditure of cash. The gas cap on this jeep is a quintessential example of a zero-cost repair.


Mexicans know that plastic coke bottles have an infinite number of uses when cut in two: for mixing paint colors, starting plants, as safety caps on rebar stubs, driveway markers, water pumps—and now, as we can see, as replacement gas caps. An ideal solution: no cost, high-value recycling, and one less piece of roadside litter.