Tired of inaction, two students brought recycling to their Jalisco community


I reside in Pinar de la Venta, a rural community within the municipality of Zapopan, Jalisco, that’s perched on a mountaintop not removed from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Not way back, in our native WhatsApp chat, I started to see notices each two weeks, inviting folks to gather and contribute their recyclables.

The posts got here from two younger girls dwelling in my neighborhood named Xela Lloyd and Xochil Vandroogenbroeck, each of them students. I requested them why they’d determined to begin this undertaking as an alternative of spending all day with their noses in a smartphone, like so many different younger moderns.

“It all began,” Lloyd mentioned, “when we would drive through these streets and see what sort of things people were throwing out to be picked up by the trash collectors.”

They each realized that almost all of what was on the market was recyclable.

“We kept seeing people in the [WhatsApp] chat complain that we should be recycling here, but all they did was talk about it,” Vandroogenbroeck mentioned. “They never took the initiative. Finally, we got tired of all that complaining, so we decided to go ahead and do something ourselves. That’s how it all started!”

Making positive solely recyclables are collected.

I requested them how they’d organized for any individual to come removed from city to our mile-high community to choose issues up twice a month.

“Bueno,” Lloyd mentioned, “in our homes, we used to separate and accumulate our recyclable items like glass, paper and plastics, and then we would take everything to one of several pickup points in Guadalajara. So we called the people who were running that project and asked them if they wouldn’t mind including our community as one of those pickup points, because it is such a long drive from here into the city.”

The younger girls acquired the Jalisco undertaking, which is today known as CreSer ConCiencia (Raise Awareness with Science) to agree on a time and place, they usually now come by each 15 days.

Every different Sunday, Lloyd and Vandroogenbroeck put a reminder on the chat and go to meet the folks bringing issues to be recycled.

“Somebody always appears,” they informed me, “and usually they have lots of questions about what’s recyclable and what’s not. Some of them have rather funny ideas about recycling. For example, somebody showed up with a shoe … not a pair, just one shoe! And one day, a group of people showed up with a sofa … but they were walking, carrying it!”

I went down to the assembly level to see for myself. At the appointed spot, there was a flatbed truck and two younger males, Juan and Santiago Quezada. After I requested Juan how lengthy he has been accumulating supplies for recycling he seemed shocked on the query. “Since I was eight years old,” he replied.

CreSer ConCiencia programMembers of the Pinar de la Venta community arrive with their recyclables.

Because I had requested to meet her, the organizer of CreSer ConCiencia, Louisette Chacón, was additionally on the assortment level. I requested her the place her curiosity in recycling had been born.

“I have four children,” Chacón informed me. “When they were in elementary school, I joined a reading group started by some of the mothers … and that’s how I first heard about ecology, recycling and … Greenpeace.”

At these conferences, Chacón would study what Greenpeace was doing after which go it on to the group and to the children.

“After a while, I joined Greenpeace and ended up going on four trips with them on the Rainbow Warrior III and other boats. So, caring for our environment has always been important for me, and for some time I was thinking about a good project for me to work on, and I decided I need to focus on education, in particular educating kids.”

CreSer ConCiencia is aimed toward everybody — youngsters and adults.

“But at first, we are starting with schools. To get the ball rolling, we set up a system by which the general public could donate their recyclable trash, but my final goal is to hold workshops in schools,” Chacón mentioned. “Due to COVID, we’re not collecting as much as we’d like, and we often have to take money out of our own pockets to keep things going, to pay salaries and gasoline and things like signs and publications.”

CreSer ConCiencia program Louisette ChaconLouisette Chacón makes use of proceeds from the recycling undertaking to fund CreSer ConCiencia’s academic applications.

I requested her what some of the objects they gather appear to be as soon as they’ve been recycled.

“Take these Tetra Pak juice and milk cartons,” she mentioned. “Tetra Paks are 100% recyclable: they consist of 75% cardboard, 20% polyethylene and 5% aluminum. So all of these can be recycled. From old Tetra Paks, we get flooring and roofing material. You can even make houses out of this material!”

Chacón then confirmed me a plastic bottle full of cigarette butts.

“We are also ambassadors of Eco Filter México,” she mentioned. “This is an organization proper right here in Guadalajara that’s utilizing a fungus-based biotechnological course of that they patented, that degrades 25% and detoxifies 100% of cigarette butts. Colillas, as we name them in Spanish, comprise very poisonous residues, so when they’re tossed into water or thrown on the bottom, they contaminate the atmosphere.

“Just one butt can contain up to 200 toxic substances, some of them carcinogens … and would you believe it? They take 15 years to decompose. So we encourage people to put cigarette butts into a plastic bottle which they can give to us once it’s full. We will then pass them on to Eco Filter.”

Chacón defined that Eco Filter’s plant is positioned behind the Guadalajara airport. They break up the filters and blend them with this fungus they found in Michoacán.

CreSer ConCiencia programIn 2021, volunteers collected 2.6 tonnes of cigarette butts to be processed by Eco Filter Mexico.

After 20 days or so, the fungus decontaminates the filter. Then the fabric is dried and powdered, and out of it, they make issues like paper and flowerpots. Last 12 months, they processed greater than six million colillas!”

Chacón additionally informed me that recyclers are performing some wonderful issues with bottles made of PET, a polymer within the polyester household. Let me point out only one instance.

Oceanness is an organization in Oslo, Norway, that collects plastic bottles from ocean coastlines and turns them into T-shirts. In a video clip on Oceanness’ web site, firm CEO Gaute Hellerslia explains that it takes seven plastic bottles to create one shirt.

Those bottles, he says, are “clinically washed, Monica-from-Friends-style,” then shredded to flakes, that are melted into tiny pellets that in flip are extruded and spun into mushy yarn and eventually woven into material.

Then Gaute casually provides, “I have a pretty disturbing fact for you: 60% of all clothing today is actually plastic made from oil. The fashion business is the second most polluting industry in the world. Check the label on the clothes you are wearing. If it says they’re made of polyester, your clothes come from oil.”

The clip ends with a small discover: “Since you started watching this video, 734,000 plastic bottles have been dumped in our oceans.”

CreSer ConCiencia programThe pickup crew and the organizers standing by to obtain recyclable objects in Pinar de la Venta.

I thank younger folks like Lloyd and Vandroogenbroeck, not just for calling my consideration to issues I ought to be pondering extra about but in addition for really taking a hand in doing one thing about them.

The author has lived close to Guadalajara, Jalisco, since 1985. His most up-to-date ebook is Outdoors in Western Mexico, Volume Three. More of his writing will be discovered on his weblog.


Oceanness CEO Gaute HellersliaOceanness CEO Gaute Hellerslia carrying a T-shirt constructed from seven recycled PET plastic bottles.


CreSer ConCiencia programA pen constructed from recycled Tetra Pak containers.


CreSer ConCiencia programChairs and desks made solely of used meals cartons collected by students at a college in Mumbai, India.

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