Environmental education in one of Mexico’s major tourist centres.
In the 1970s Cancun was no more than a scattering of fisherman’s huts on a white sand-spit, backing onto a vast plain of tropical forest. But the sheer beauty of the place became it’s undoing as the tourist industry converted Cancun into a metropolis of luxury hotels and associated tourist parphernalia. Great swathes of forest have been cleared in the process and the growing city of Cancun, geared as it is towards tourism has paid little attention to its green spaces or dwindling forests.
To counter this, environmental activists set up an organisation called Reforest Cancun, which focuses on education to encourage children and adults alike to start composting their household wastes, reintroduce vegetable growing in their backyards and to support tree-planting activities in the locality. With very limited resources, activist Rogelio Buendia initiated the project by converting discarded oil cannisters into compost bins. He decorated the bins with cartoon faces so that children connected to them and saw composting as a fun thing to do. In the tropical heat and humidity, compost ‘makes’ very quickly and Rogelio was able to show how kitchen waste became friable compost in a matter of weeks, and then to demonstrate the vegetables and fruits that could easily be grown in pots in backyards, from that compost.
The project is now expanding to the wider community, linking with businesses and hotels to explore ways that organic waste can be composted and green spaces created.