I Recycle Countrywide and Stopping a Silent Killer

by tacogirl
Dead batteries at San Pedro Transfer Station

I was long overdue for another recycling and garbage update but got minorly slowed down by other things. A parttime grant writing position fell in my lap helping secure funds for organizations helping people on a low socioeconomic scale in another country. I decided it would be an advantageous thing to learn in case any of my chosen island charities ever need assistance one day. I will eventually start researching potential grants in the garbage and recycling area too. We have been funded in this area before by The Inter-American Development Bank and we could still use a lot more help with our crazy Ambergris Caye garbage situation.

Battery Recycling

The battery recycling process is slowly coming along, there are definitely days when I wonder “what the hell was I thinking” taking this on. Thanks to a little help from my friends those days are few and I keep getting told how important this mission is. With over a year’s worth of collection, they needed to get out of my indoor bodega (laundry room and storage) and be safely packaged for transport. Thanks to Cindy Vigna of the Belize Sailing Center for volunteering her staff, Everal to finish packaging the batteries when it was too windy to have sailors out. Also thanks to my friends Carleen and Jenna who have both helped me with pickups from Harmouche Center, Castillo’s, and SP Hardware.

Beach at Banyan Bay resortarea

My friend Jodie also pro-recycling and waste management wanted to see what the Ambergris Caye transfer station looked like and where it was. We took a drive and dropped off about 130 lbs of the dead household batteries to the hazardous waste section at the transfer station. Emmanuel at the Transfer Station was very helpful and agreed that this was a good thing for everyone.

Countrywide Recycling in Belize

Left side collage below courtesy of Emmanuel on WhatsApp. It shows the batteries leaving the island – a monumental event for me. Thank you to all who contributed to keeping this extremely harmful waste out of their regular garbage. Also to the three hardware stores willing to place 5-quart battery recycling containers in their stores.

Countrywide Recycling in Belize

From here the batteries traveled on a barge and made their way to the sanitary landfill at Mile 24 on the George Price Highway. The facility covers 370 acres, and our batteries ended up at the hazardous waste cell where Emmerson Garcia and his team will soon take over. They will get placed in a blue barrel which will be filled with concrete and disposed of.

In case you are wondering what our waste management system looks like – I took the right-hand pic (above) in 2015 back when our transfer station was all shiny and new. Belize also has transfer stations in Caye Caulker, Belize City, Orange Walk, Corozal, Belmopan, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Benque Viejo, Belmopan, Stann Creek, and Toledo.

Countrywide Recycling in Belize

When you live in a place without proper recycling it can make you a lot more conscious of finding ways to reuse and curb trash. Many things that get thrown out that most people would not think twice about. The pile in the picture below are all things most people would be likely to toss in the garbage. Since my herbalist, Kim of Kimmers Kreations is in Cayo, and it is guaranteed that address labels and Tropic cargo stickers will end up on my package I save them to reuse. After all, stickers cost money, trees take time to grow and I know Kim is always happy to not have to write the same addresses out again. The product containers get sterilized and used again keeping them out of the ground a while longer.

Tropic Air Cargo stickers

I also do local recycling on Ambergris Caye. All the taller containers go to my friend Cindy who runs The Lunch Box home delivery service. Plastic clamshells get cleaned recycled to my friend Jodie for holiday baking containers.

Belize Recycles plastic

#nosuchthingasgarbage

Inspired by travel and recognizing a need to reduce waste on the island, my friend Lara, owner of 12 Belize decided to take action and get busy saving trash from the trash. She has a few of us saving our garbage so she can turn it into useful items.

I’ve always loved to repurpose things, and when I saw bags made from garbage while on a trip to Portugal, I became obsessed. So now, I make dog food tote bags that are donated to SPAH, laptop cases, wallets, coin purses, and makeup bags out of all sorts of found items – Lara Goldman.

You know what they say, “one mans trash is another man’s treasure”, well now you can get your cool recycled items at 12 Belize.

Recycled bags by 12 Belize Shop

Plarn Projects

Local Ambergris Caye resident Terry Gallagher started a community project here on the island to repurpose plastic bags – Plarn Projects. They take plastic bags and turn them into yarn, hence “plarn”. Then they can be crocheted into doormats, sleeping mats, tote bags, and coasters. They are durable, don’t attract bugs and can be easily cleaned.

Terry purchased the hooks and has solicited volunteers who know how to crochet. She is hoping to get kids involved too. Teaching the importance of recycling and preserving the island are Plarn Project’s main goals.

She is doing a weekly pickup of bags on Fridays, and many businesses on the island are collection sites. Drop your clean, gently used plastic bags to Palapa Bar and Grill, Sandy Toes Beach Bar & Grill, Coco’s Loco Beach Bar, Crocs Sunset Sports Bar, Sandbar San Pedro, Crazy Canucks Beach Bar, Mesa Cafe San Pedro, Iguana Juan’s Restaurant & Bar, Pirates Treasure Restaurant and Bar, and at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar.

The Plarn Project met this aft at Aji Tapas Bar and Restaurant. They are teaching people how to make coasters and doormats. Please note: This is totally not for profit, Terry just wants to give back to the island we call home.

DIY plastic yarn floor mat

Recycle San Pedro Belize

This grassroots operation has bought property in the lagoon side with waterfront for shipping. They are going to start using the ground recycled glass as an aggregate to making brick pavers and blocks here on the island in the next couple of months.

Glass recycling in Belize

San Pedro Green and Clean

On the second and fourth Friday of each month, the folks of San Pedro Green and Clean meet at Stellas Sunset for a short briefing followed by a one hour clean up 8:00 am – 9:00 am. Due to their noticeable efforts, a large donation from Grand Caribe was given of 2 local guys to clean paved roads, twice a month on Sunday. They do a great job of sorting out the plastic recyclables from the trash. This group also saw a need for education and started a Holy Cross school recycling program and accompanying pizza parties which are scheduled to resume next year. Pictures below courtesy of Dawn Kennedy Schick.

Trash Pick up Ambergris Caye

We pick up trash because we love San Pedro, another group that used to post their trashy beach finds also followed the geography of our garbage. They found things from all several countries. Haiti, Barbados, Honduras, St Lucia, Venezuela, and Germany to name a few. The craziest thing was an ice skate – definitely not from Belize.

Stopping A Silent Killer

Diane Klumb who was involved with the eco rangers in DFC area noticed the kids understood that the caps are more dangerous than the bottles. They pointed out, birds can’t eat the bottles. That’s a dead sea bird below. Look at his gut contents, most people have no idea. Caps may look harmless, as far as litter goes – absolutely not true. Fish are at risk too.

Dead bird on Ambergris Caye Belize Beach

There are usually a lot on the beach stuck in the seaweed. they are really bird-killers, and very few people know that. For some reason, birds think plastics are edible, Scientists have been tracking plastic ingestion by seabirds for decades.  The picture above is courtesy of Diane.

Once you start picking them up it’s hard to stop, When she lived on Ambergris, Diane’s pockets were always full. Once while down at the town dock waiting for the ferry, Diane saw there must have been a hundred of them floating in the seagrass right near the shore. On hot days in the summer she used to take the kids to the beach and they’d scoop them out of the seagrass- they thought it was great fun.

Collecting caps and helping stop this silent killer is also the mission of Nayobie’s Hope for Children. All it takes is 1,000 plastic bottle caps and families with children facing cancer granted one chemotherapy session. This initiative is done through the #TapitasxSonrisas system, by Alianza Anticancer in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. So far they have gathered more than 20,000 plastic caps. Thunderbolt Water Taxi Ltd who transported Nayobi along with more than 10 sacks of caps from San Pedro to Corozal. From there, they went by land to Mexico.

Mangrove Garbage

Helping Another Silent Killer

As many of you know I have been helping the Belize Cancer Center in Dangriga with tacogirl flight code (for a cause) – horizon. It works at no extra cost to you and helps many. When you book your flights online, just enter horizon in the Tropic Air promo code area.

Wanting to further help stop this silent killer, I decided it was time to start working with our local San Pedro Cancer Society (SPCS) as well so I reached out to Miguel and asked him for a wish list aside from the permanent place where we can donate blood on the island he gave me a list of items they need to better be able to help those with Cancer on the island.

Please visit my easy donations page, to help both the Cancer Center and Cancer Society. Thanks go to Kristie Settas-Jones and her birthday vacation crew for wanting to help both causes. In addition to using Tropic flight code to help the Belize Cancer Center, they brought needed donations for the San Pedro Cancer Society as well. In addition, Kristie planned a fun scavenger hunt for her crew and all $300 BZD raised was also donated to the SPCS.

A huge thank you to everyone helping such an important cause that is dear to my heart – fighting Cancer. You are truly helping those who need it most as so many cannot afford treatment in Belize.

Left pic courtesy of Lara Goldman, 12 Belize and the right, a group shot courtesy of Josh Nunez, Hurricanes Ceviche Bar and Grill.

San Pedro Cancer Society donations

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2 comments

Emily November 17, 2019 - 12:25 pm

So many wonderful programs and people helping with the trash problem on Ambergris Caye! Great job, Laurie. I love those repurposed bags also…so creative!

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tacogirl November 17, 2019 - 6:09 pm

Thanks Emily. I agree, it is great the creativity that coming out of the necessity to reduce our garbage.

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