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Goodbye to Waste

Lic. Marisa Ortiz

Productos de BioTime

Sara Picazo de OmaOma

By Karla Ortiz

For some years now, scientists and activists have tried to make the population aware of the damage we are doing every day to our planet due to the large amount of toxic waste we generate. According to México’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (National Institute of Statistics and Georgraphy), around 100,000 tons of garbage are generated daily in México.

 

We find garbage everywhere—in the earth, forests, rivers. Even in the skies we can see a great amount of industrial smog.

The oceans are being contaminated with our waste. The rivers and lakes are disappearing due to exploitation of water. Many species have already become extinct, and fertile lands are being transformed into deserts.

But there is hope: as the world’s climate changes, more organizations and people are banding together into a movement to create conscious consumers. Hernán Guillen, creator of the Green Guide to Taking Care of Our Planet Earth, believes conscious consumers should follow four principles:

1) Don’t acquire unnecessary products and products with high quantities of chemicals or packaging. Before buying, he suggests asking yourself this question: How is this going to improve my life?

2) Reduce consumption to generate less waste and fewer pollutants.

3) Reuse clothes, paper, glass, plastics. Reuse bottles to carry water. Make rags or mops out of old clothes.

4) Sort waste for recycling.

Although it is hard work, changing habits to live a more planet-friendly life is not impossible. Separating garbage is key, since throwing out organic waste with paper or cardboard renders what would otherwise be recyclable items useless. But separated they are worth gold.

The San Miguel de Allende initiative 90 Percent seeks to give new life to the 90 percent of waste that can be reused. Daniela Del Villar, founder of the project, has created a very simple manual on separating garbage, which teaches consumers the following terminology that illustrates that not all waste in our garbage cans is the same:

-Organic: natural materials that disintegrate in a couple of weeks and are ideal for creating compost, including fruits, vegetables, eggshells, hair, grains, bread, tortillas, napkins, and coffee.

-Inorganics: manmade materials that take up to thousands of years to disintegrate but can be reused, including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metals.

-Difficult-to-recycle inorganics: Because their decomposition is difficult and expensive, it’s better to avoid these items altogether if possible. These include styrofoam, plasticized paper, carbon paper, mirrors, cigarette butts, ceramic objects, synthetic fabrics, and electronics.

-Sanitary: This is the small fraction of waste that is truly garbage. They are highly polluting and should never go down the drain. These are diapers, sanitary napkins, condoms, gauzes, Band-Aids, mattresses, and expired medications.

 

To further educate people, the 90 Percent organization highlights on its website the story of Japan’s zero-waste town, Kamikatsu, where the population separates waste into 34 categories. Each person cleans, sorts, and delivers his waste for recycling. “The aim here in San Miguel is to coordinate all the actors involved—the communities, the landfill, Tecmed, the municipality, the civil associations, and the society in general,” said Del Villar.

The situation is so alarming that in September the government approved creating the Secretariat of Environment, headed by Marisa Ortiz, who told Atención that they are about to enter into dialogue with the mayors of the municipalities to create personalized ecological strategies in each place, since each city has different needs. San Miguel, for example, has a high demand for tourism.

“The planet belongs to everyone, but the house where we live is called Guanajuato. If we want to leave better conditions to future generations, we have to work together. The issue of waste in the state is a great challenge. The governor himself said that we have four fundamental challenges: air quality, waste, water, and natural resources,” said Ortiz.

Sixteen percent of waste ends up in streams and rivers, creating complications that we see during the rainy season. “To eradicate this, first we have to bet on waste generation reduction and on educating and raising awareness on this in the population. We are generating one-and-a-half kilograms of solid waste a day per person. In the end, most of the waste becomes raw material: plastic can be used to make jackets or vests. I already carry my straw and reusable cutlery everywhere,” she added.

If you also want to join the recycling initiative, San Miguel already has resources available to help you change our wasteful habits. Two following two companies are committed to making a change and helping citizens make a difference in San Miguel:

Oma Oma, a small company only three months old, distributes nylon bags and blankets to replace the plastic bags typically found in supermarkets and used to store fruits and vegetables. Find them in the Mercado SANO or order them for home delivery at 553 573 5548

BioTime is another small company that distributes disposables to restaurants, hotels, and festivals, and is now betting on local commerce, advising families who want to offer biodegradable disposables at their children’s three-years-old parties or for meetings with friends. Find them next to the Parish of San Antonio or by calling 415 154 9430.

 

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