Dances with Garbage

BY: DAVID ZIVIC

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OK, it's not just Kevin Costner, but all of us, to a degree, are somewhat wallowing in our local garbage, trash, and especially plastic.

The residents of Todos Santos, along with Pescadero, are just running out of places to "dump" all of this crap. There is an enormous landfill dump between the two towns, and it was full. An evident and convenient resolution might be to burn the stuff. Set the dump on fire and allow it to burn out by itself. Unfortunately, burning it only exasperates the issue,  transferring the problem to another. The burn-off process causes all of that plastic, and there is a lot, to create noxious fumes. Besides the obvious convenience of the burns, the fumes are often wafting downwind, via the prevailing winds, to the community of Pescadero, just to the south. Recently, another large trench was to be dug at a considerable expense.

Now comes the solution. The Pueblo of Todos Santos, along with Pescadero businesses, have banded together with an ambitious program to protect their families, environment, and wildlife. These programs have a theme, "Zero Waste." The program is similar to ones like Tokyo, San Francisco, and Sydney. The Choyeros (Baja Locals) call their program "Desplasticificate." I can write the word, but pronouncing it was a little bit of a challenge.

But I digress.

The program has five classifications for the businesses, and they are called five turtles. I would suppose hypothetically the firm could save at least one turtle by eliminating plastic straws. You will receive the somewhat logical progress of two turtles just by removing plastic bags and styrofoam from your usage. Moving right along, eliminating those plastic bottles and the caps and you would now have the three turtle classification. You would remove all of the disposable plastic from these tacky items from your business and help the environment. As we discussed, it would also prevent any of these more toxic fumes from contaminating our residential towns, local beaches, and mountains.

For those who feel the need for straws for your drinks, there are some hollow reeds that get sanitized. Recycled boxes and paper bags are available, and markets supply re-usable bags. Restaurants will provide purified water and glasses, often with purified ice cubes.

Now things get to be a little more of a commitment to get the four and five turtle designation. Four requires that all of your refuse be recycled. As there is no formal recycled program in these areas which will make it a little challenging, but there is a solution to be discussed in a moment. The fifth turtle involves composting all of the organic wastes. This composting process might be the trick as several businesses have adjoining gardens. At least one has chickens who root and aerate the compost via eating all of the high protein scraps.

As this writer mentioned, some of those processes might be challenging for some of these businesses. There is a solution for these, as there are local support services already in place. Straws are available by a supplier who makes hollow cane sections. Paper recycled bags and boxes for to-go items are readily available. There is an incentive program for installation for water purification systems. The two labor-intensive processes, recycling, and compost, already have local support ready and willing to assist with all of this.

There was a meeting for the local businesses and politicians who endorse the Desplastificate Program. Both the Delegates (sort of the mayors) of LaPaz and Todos Santos, showed up and gave enlightening speeches via an interpreter. Here is a partial list of members who endorse the Desplastificate Program. Restaurant La Casita, Rancho Pescadero,  Romantica, Hotelito, Todos Santos Brewery, and Pura Vida.

Interestingly there is one Eco Decision Maker who represents one restaurant and one resort at the same time. One in Todos Santos, the restaurant "Romantica" and the resort "Rancho Pescadero." Teresa Egea Molines and some local women also make some curious and useful wood sipping straws from local reeds. They are re-usable and very affordable. She and several other members gave entertaining and informative speeches, as in, with an interpreter and a microphone. The little Desplastifacate soiree at La Casita went a long way to increase the volume of interest in the program. There were over 30 business owners and speakers to fill the room.

The Baja California Sur will soon be a total "Zero Waste Zone." La Paz is well on its way, and Todos Santos and Pescadero are already leading the charge.

So ... What's up with Cabo San Lucas?