Juluchuca is home to one of the only recycling programs on the Costa Grande.
Why is that? First, as with many services that many residents of modern cities might take for granted, the reality of a small community in rural Mexico is that local residents must come together to organize services for themselves that might be provided elsewhere. But secondly, Juluchuca has this recycling program because of the tireless work of members of the community.
Our project, called Juluchuca Limpio, was developed with Ernesto “Pato” Leon Sandoval, an environmental advocate on the Costa Grande and resides in Troncones, a small surfing town about 1.5 hours from Juluchuca. The goal is to not only clean up and recycle waste in the area, but also raise awareness about the waste we create and how we can reduce our environmental impact. As we enter 2020, Juluchuca Limpio is thriving!
“There’s a lot less trash littering the streets,”
Over the past year, we have:
- Recycled over 675 kilos (1400 lbs) of plastic bottles from our impact communities
- Hosted twelve environmental workshops,
- Organized over 40 beach and community trash clean-ups;
We have also hosted several combined public turtles releases and beach clean-ups that ended with a visit to Playa Viva. A key component of Juluchuca Limpio is also the creation of art — using recycled materials to make signs that go up around town to raise awareness about trash and recycling.
using recycled materials to make signs that… raise awareness about trash and recycling.
There are currently over 20 bins for plastic bottle recycling in Juluchuca, Rancho Nuevo and La Ceiba. Residents use them regularly and they fill the rim after a week or two. Adriana Palacios is our local leader of the project. She and her family are dedicated to emptying the bins and storing the bottles until they can be sold to the recycling plant. They are supported by three other community members – Candido, Lazaro and Tomas – who are working at Playa Viva through the Jovenes Construyendo el Futuro Government Program. They assist Adriana and her family with emptying the bins, cleaning up the town, and making sure the plastic gets sold.
The money from the sale of the plastic is reinvested in the project, oftentimes dedicated to the purchase of additional materials to construct bins and paint supplies for making signs. Every three months we make about 40USD from the sale of the plastic. The other operating expenses of Juluchuca Limpio come from generous donors from within the Playa Viva Community.
Another key component of Juluchuca Limpio is to involve the local youth, and inspire a new generation of environmental advocates. In 2020, we plan to continue Juluchuca Limpio’s aim of reducing plastic waste through recycling while emphasizing the importance of reducing single-use plastic consumption. Lorenzo (Turtle Sanctuary Volunteer Coordinator) and Ariel (Education and Community Volunteer Coordinator) are working in the schools to teach “the three R’s” – reduce, reuse and then recycle. Each school group gets to come to Playa Viva to visit the farm, the turtle sanctuary and see the hotel installations. In this sense, Juluchuca Limpio begins by engaging students with the importance of clean communities and then slowly builds upon that idea to show how clean communities are connected to healthy bodies, healthy ecosystems and a healthy planet.
Over the past year, residents of Juluchuca and Rancho Nuevo have already taken note of the program’s advances. “There’s a lot less trash littering the streets,” said Eli, the head of housekeeping at Playa Viva who lives in Rancho Nuevo. Her daughter participates in weekly trash clean-ups in her town with Ariel and the other children from the community.
With Juluchuca Limpio, we’ve seen that progress is often slow and non-linear, but with the support of multiple local stakeholders, we are starting to see a shift in both mindset and actions in our communities.