Burning trash dumped alongside highways, aluminum cans drifting through rivers where locals bathe, fish washing up on shore with plastic in their bones. It´s hard to drive on the highway highway 200 without seeing smoke hundreds of feet away resulting from locals burning trash. Unfortunately, this is everyday life for Mexico.
Yet in the little town of Troncones located about an hour north of Zihuatanejo, the locals congregated recently for the annual Environmental Expo. The sign outside the event read, ¨Precaucion Zona de Anidacion¨ – “Precaution, Nesting Zone.” Paco, a local organic farmer from Juluchuca near Playa Viva who exports organic basil to the stores in the US, was at the expo promoting his sustainability efforts. He showed a PowerPoint presentation that he and another local advocate for organic agriculture, Pato, developed jointly. Pato is part of a sustainable environmental group called ¨Colectiva Organika Campesina Cultura de La Tierra¨ which translates to Organic Farmers Cultural Collective for the Earth. Both are working to promote the new organic fertilizer being used in the field called ¨Agro Kelp¨, which helps stabilize the crops.
Pato gave a powerful show on the effects of pesticides on human population and the environment. He backed up his facts with historical data about the years of destruction following the use of pesticides. Graphic photos lead to a sense of horror among viewers who definitely paid attention to the presentation. Paco is an inspiration speaker for the cause of local and organic agriculture and how it can promote a healthier way world and a better way of living.
Another example of working on sustainability on a local level is a fellow named Mike who demonstrated his eco-enthusiasm by creating a project that involved the boys of a local school. The boys agreed to clean the trash around their community of Saladita and in return they received futbol shoes! Their efforts helped set the standard for a cleaner environment in their local town, which has evidently rubbed off on the girls of the school, who now want to participate as well and receive their own reward.
Johnny´s, one of the key members of the Playa Viva team, was at the Expo.Johnny is part of a group of young entrepreneurs from Juluchuca who are working to create a line of all organic marmalades made from molasses (rather than sugar). The group holds two meetings a week and on the weekend practice making organic marmalades and coconut candies. One of my favorite little finds was flax granola and raw coconut oil being sold at the event.
The expo proved to be a success as locals and tourists alike released baby Golfina turtles into the sea. An important act as some species of sea turtles, such as Letherback, are in danger of extinction due to to a variety of factors including the plastic they mistake for jellyfish – a staple of their diet.
What we see on the outside sometimes not indicative of the work that many are placing into saving the environment these days. Although Mexico has its environmental faults, the many people, young and old, are working together to create a better environment for generations to come.