Donkeys replace waste trucks in green Sicily town

CASTELBUONO, Sicily (Reuters Life!) - The rattle of refuse trucks can no longer be heard over the cobbled streets of Castelbuono. The Sicilian town has swapped them for green alternatives: donkeys collect the trash.

Once a sign of poverty in southern Italy, the humble working donkey has now become a vision of things to come, according to Mayor Mario Cicero, who says the animals are cheaper and emit less greenhouse gas than trucks.

“We had this idea to continue along our virtuous path, looking at new initiatives -- even if this one is natural and practical -- in order to come up with something to improve our environment,” said Cicero.

But while donkeys like Theresa look picturesque to visitors as they plod through town with large boxes on their backs collecting recyclables and regular waste, the locals are less impressed, seeing the animals as reminders of past hardships.

“I don’t agree with the donkeys,” said Caterina Salemi, voicing an opinion shared by many of the locals. “We need to move forward not backward, it’s like going backwards 40 years”.