Friends for Nature

By Jesús Aguado

The Fundación de Apoyo Infantil (FAI) held the second Fair of Environmental Education where more than 400 children gathered and shared their experiences about environmental preservation. The event also featured a recycled toys contest. The fair was held at Parque Juárez and included the exhibition of more than 400 toys made with recycled materials, such as cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, and glass. The students bought the glue and paint.

Graciela Hernández Alarcón, coordinator of the Environmental Education program of FAI told Atención that for 12 years they have been working in the city to instill in children a habit of taking care of nature. Four years ago they were allowed to work in public schools—primary, secondary, and even preparatory schools—educating more than 5,000 children per year. When the workshops end, the school authorities sign an agreement committing to be a “School Friend of Nature.”

According to Hernández, the School Friend of Nature must have trash cans to separate solid wastes such as plastic, cardboard, glass, and aluminum. The educational institutions also sign an agreement with Recicla, a company that buys the trash and pays the school per kilo: three pesos for plastic, 14 pesos for aluminum, and 40 cents for glass. The money is used to buy education or sporting material and can also be used to improve the school’s facilities. These expenditures are decided by a school committee comprising teachers, students, and parents.

Hernández commented that in 2012 the Heroinas Insurgentes school got 2,300 pesos from selling its trash; followed in second place by El Nigromante, with an income of 1,800 pesos; the school of Corral de Piedras, a rural community, got 1,500 pesos. In that community, the foundation also launched a cleaning program that included all the inhabitants; they clean the community and sell the trash. The first time they did it, they sold the (recyclable) trash and got 9,000 pesos for it. The sanitary landfill receives 100 tons of solid waste daily, and Hernández made it clear that the FAI program has helped to reduce the trash that the schools hand over to the Public Services Department by 33 percent.

The program includes 28 schools, 10 in rural communities and the rest in the urban area. Nevertheless, Hernández highlighted that they have faced teachers’ apathy about participating in their program and that teachers are also the first to set bad examples for children. They have even said, “We do not want to participate in your program; you demand too much, and we do not gain anything.”

The Friends for Nature are divided according to their grade in school:
First grade: friends of paper
Second grade: friends of plants
Third grade: friends of water
Fourth grade: friends of animals
Fifth grade: friends of earth
Sixth grade: friends of collection and recycling

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