We jumped feet first (literally!) into our own trash!We decided that 2020 was high time for Playa Viva to revisit our own waste streams inside the hotel. Using one of the most important permaculture principles, apply self-regulation and accept feedback, I spent three consecutive days sorting our waste with the intention of understanding what we were producing, in what quantities, and thinking deeply about how we could reduce and reuse some of the things we were throwing away.
So what can’t we recycle?Broken glass, which unfortunately accumulates substantially at the hotel – about 10 gallons of broken glass every two weeks. We are storing it for now, with the hopes that an artsy volunteer will use the clay and glass pieces to do some mosaic work with the school children in town. Toilet paper and other waste from guest rooms at Playa Viva. This one is a bit harder to reduce and/or eliminate, but we are making efforts to collect the waste from all rooms in just one plastic bag, instead of producing a partially filled plastic bag from each room separately. Tetra paks are not recyclable in Mexico yet, and until they are, it is the responsibility of our kitchen team and our food production team to think through ways of growing or processing local ingredients into the products we would otherwise have to purchase in this non-renewable resource. Being able to recognize positive and negative feedback loops within a system is crucial within project development. There is no real end to this type of self-regulation. To date, the work to evaluate and reorganize our wastestreams has fallen to the Permaculture Team and our Executive Chef; and now, it is the responsibility of the leaders of each of these departments to discuss, inform and work with other team members at our hotel. In creating a collective consciousness around the waste being produced at the hotel, and the ways in which we can reuse some of the materials coming in, we carve out opportunities for this information to permeate into the communities where we live.
Amanda Harris is the Permaculture Manager at Playa Viva. Originally from Maryland, she made her way to Juluchuca by way of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Southeast Asia, and most recently, a beautiful, diversely planted “holler” in West Virginia.