Recycle!

And this is how it’s done here

BY CLARA MILLS-ROMINES

Most of us came down to Baja for the same reason: To live a stress-free life far from the distractions back home.What's not to love about these endless warm days, sipping on frozen drinks, eating fish tacos, and watching amazing sunsets?

 Unfortunately, this seasonal increase in population puts a stress on local towns.Specifically, the garbage system.Most communities struggle to get regular garbage pickup, let alone, a proper landfill.Sorry to kill your buzz.Have another margarita, but continue reading.

The small seaside community of La Ventana-El Sargento has created the No Mas Basura campaign as a way to decrease the amount of trash on the local beaches duringSemana Santa(Easter vacation), and the La Ventana wind surfing classic.The non-profit group is geared toward community education and maintaining the health and natural beauty of this area.Weekly recycling collection, eco workshops for the school system, and an annual town wide clean-up are just of few ways this campaign is changing the minds of those who spend time here.Director, Javier Ponce is the heart of this program and has big plans for the future. "I am trying to continue my boy scout promise," Javier told me.

January 11th, 2018, marked the third annual No Mas Basura Community Clean-Up. The event helps blend the gap in the societies by using volunteers as chaperones and children from the local schools to divide and conquer the trash laying in the streets and decrease items that allow standing water which encourages mosquito reproduction.Within a couple hours, the children are back and given a free lunch in the shade while their garbage bags full of trash are parked in the middle of the baseball stadium for everyone to see.This is the moment No Mas Basura has worked for.The children can see what is possible if everyone pitches in to help make their town a little cleaner.

The educational programs within the local school system includes guided field trips with local scientists and marine biologists where students learn about their native flora, fauna, and marine life.Other workshops include gardening and composting.Volunteer Pam Parenty has started an Eco Club for 10 and 11 year olds aimed at teaching the younger students how to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."These are stepping stones needed to protect our environment." says Pam.

The No Mas Basura recycling program is such a success that most weeks they run out of room on their trailers to accept recyclable products.Glass is divided by color and crushed, as well as tetra packs (juice boxes) and Styrofoam which are reduced and reused for construction supplies and even concrete countertops.Plastic bottles, aluminum, and metal cans are collected and sold, giving jobs to locals.Cardboard is used by a ranch for composting. None of this would be feasible without the help of hard-working volunteers and generous donations by the community.

The No Mas Basura campaign has big plans for the future and are betting on the next generation to make the future of this peninsula cleaner than the last.Find more information about No Mas Basura and other ways you can help atwww.nomasbasura.infoon their Facebook page.

Interested in making a difference in your town?Follow these steps to create less trash in your community.

          - Ditch the plastic water bottles.Buy a glass or stainless steel reusable bottle.

          - Keep reusable bags in the front seat of your car so you remember to bring them into the store with you.Have any extra reusable bags?Take them to your local market and ask for them to be dispensed to their customers.

          - Keep a few glass or kitchen containers in your car for leftovers after eating out versus the plastic to-go boxes.

          - Grab a garbage bag and clean your local street or beach.Set an example for your community.

These steps are annoying at first, but like anything else, it takes time to create a new habit.