Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bottles on Bottles! Recycling Program Continues to Grow

The bottles continue to pour in! In a previous blog, I mentioned the recycling challenge we introduced during the last week of our summer camp, during which we collected 233 bottles in less than 3 days. Since this first challenge, the program has continued to develop and the lead PDs have made progress towards establishing a permanent environmental program focused on environmental education and sustainable development within our community. As part of this, we have adapted the previous Agricultural Program into a new Environmental Health Program. Recycling remains the first big focus of our new Environmental Health Program. We have continued to collect bottles and, with inspiration from the bottle school recently completed at the Guatemala site, we are planning to construct a rooftop greenhouse (made out of plastic bottles of course) with the help of our fall volunteer group from Vanderbilt.
Recycling charla 
Learning how to make the 'bottle cap curtain'

We also recently held a charla (chat) in the library about the benefits of recycling. Many neighborhood kids attended, some of whom brought bottles to contribute to the project. After the charla, we used tops from the collected bottles to begin making a "bottle top curtain" that will be used to separate a currently open doorway between one of our classrooms and the main area of the library.

While we are saving all of the uncrushed bottles for the future greenhouse, many of the bottles brought in are already crushed or flattened. Today, Cate and I took the first load of these bottles to the local recycling plant. The plant began an incentive a little over a year ago to pay a small amount for each kilo of bottles recycled. Our Ecuadorian friends have told us the incentive has been immensely successful, and as a result the streets are much cleaner. By providing a collection point in the community, we hope to promote a culture of recycling and act as an outlet for community members who want to recycle, but don't have the means to bring bottles to the plant themselves.
Local recycling center 

Carlos and I watching as they weigh our bottles 
It was somewhat of an odd experience, with a security guard who became very suspicious of Cate taking photos. Luckily we had our friend Carlos with us, who was an immense help! All in all we recycled 23 kilos, an estimated 800 bottles all together. After the bottles are recycled, the plastic is turned into fiber that is later used to make jeans. We will continue to collect bottles of all types and recycle those that are too damaged to be used in the construction of the greenhouse. Stay tuned for updates!

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