We have been living in Schaerbeek since 2004. Schaerbeek is one of the nineteen districts of Brussels.
Schaerbeek is also known as the city of donkeys. This unusual title comes from old times, when Schaerbeek’s inhabitants used donkeys to fetch their sour cherries to Brussels’ market. The sour cherries are the raw major ingredient for Kriek, the famous Belgian beer.
Nowadays one can see donkeys and horses next to cars on the streets. The animals are housed in the Josaphat Park. They tour the city daily. They do not carry any sour cherries, but wood trucks, which are part of an ecological scheme.
In 2011 the Schaerbeek municipality took the initiative to collect the public waste in a traditional and cheaper manner, with a high ecological value.
The donkeys and horses carry modern wood trucks, which tour the city to collect the public waste. The teams accompanying the trucks are well prepared in case the horses or donkeys need to relieve themselves. They are equipped with shovels, brush and bags to clean the place immediately. The trucks are also equipped with a solar panel to power the flashing light and turn signals. Purely ecological!
Both donkeys and horses bring a sort of authenticity to the streets of Schaerbeek. The traffic itself gets amusing when seeing the animals next to modern cars.
A vet sees both donkeys and horses on a monthly basis. The waste truck project, which is the first of this kind in Belgium, proves cheaper and sustainable: no fuels and pollution side effects, no long-terms costs related to insurance and car maintenance. But a little bit of authenticity and ecological efforts in a city with too many cars…