Mexico: Tacos, Beach Clean Ups and not so Zero Waste…
(Some Links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you buy from one of those links I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you)
So we finally arrived in Mexico 3 weeks ago. First week we explored Mexico City, stayed two nights in Cancun and now since two weeks we are in Playa Del Carmen. It is a touristic town, but we could get around with english easily, are enjoying good internet (for work) ;), the heat, the tropical rain. Eating yummy tacos and drinking fresh delicious juices. Meeting a lot of friendly and likeminded people. Doing Beach Clean Ups and watching pelicans who are diving for fish.
Another trip that showed me just how important it is to reduce our plastic consumption. To see the masses of people on the beach where turtles used to lay eggs is disturbing and sad, but that’s something I can’t change…
So let’s talk some trash:
Zero Waste in Mexico is just not happening at this time!
They do have a few compost bins in town, and a few recycling bins for plastic etc, but if you take a look inside the bins it’s mostly plastic in there. Not so much organic waste, or glass, or paper. Plastic and Styrofoam is the biggest amount of trash and that gets disposed in every kind of bin.
After talking to a few locals, I know by now that the city is trying to implement a recycling system, but in the end most of it goes to landfill. And landfill here in Mexico means: Landfill in the jungle or close to the ocean. And after a heavy tropical rain like yesterday, I just don’t want to imagine how much plastic got washed into the ocean…
I like to share this video with you, it’s from Tulum, a city close to Playa Del Carmen that exactly describes the situation.
And that’s why I am stressing about that we need to take responsibility about our own trash and we need to try to leave more barefoot prints on the beach than plastic foot prints when traveling!
There are a few private people collecting cans and bottles (mostly cans) to sell them to a recycling facility. Cans (Aluminium) is very well recycled and has a good value if they sell it, so if you like to drink sodas while being on an Island or another Tropical place without recycling/deposit for bottles, always go for the can and make sure to bring it to a collection point or leave it somewhere where people easily can collect them.
But after some research I actually found a place in Playa: Parque La Ceiba, where you can bring your recycling on 5 days a month. I am visiting soon and I will update what I find out, where they bring the recycling to, etc. So I am collecting paper and glass or if we gonna use cans or find littered plastic bottles or other plastic thats still good to recycle, to bring it to Parque La Ceibas Recycling Collection.
Read my Blog Post about Parque La Ceiba here.
Everything else: toilet paper (you are not supposed to flush it here, like in South East Asia too), compost (they don’t have any compost possibilities) and the plastic I pick up on beach cleans, will go to landfill here, and these are in the middle of the beautiful djungle:( …
Beach Clean Ups in Playa Del Carmen
I try to make clean ups whenever I am on a beach. At least a 5 minute beach clean.
And in the future I want to organize bigger clean ups wherever I am. But here in Playa I was happy to see that somebody already is organizing a regular Beach Clean Up every first Sunday a month! So no need to organize another one, I just participated!
Let me introduce you to Kay.
He is originally from Berlin, Germany, living in Playa since 6 years and organizing regular Beach Clean Ups in Playa Del Carmen since April 2017.
He has his own business: Kay Tours Mexico, where he offers private tours to the most beautiful places here in the area.
He started the Clean Ups because he realized that he is earning money by showing people the beauty of this area and it’s natural resources. And while facing the plastic pollution on beaches and in nature reserves around, he wanted to make a difference.
He wants to give something back!
How awesome, a business man, making money “with” nature, giving back to nature. This should be normal, it’s mostly not, thats why I am happy to have met another caring human who doesn’t mind to get his hands dirty. Making a difference, leading by example!
He just didnt wanted to make one clean up a year, but a regular one. Every month.
In hope that hotels, bars, resorts, locals, will see it, will follow, will sponsor the clean ups in the future.
And also because the ocean spits out new plastic trash every day… It’s just not done with a one time project anymore.
If you run a business in Playa, or if you know a business in Playa, or if you just live in Playa, share this Post. Ask people to join, to sponsor 5 gallon water container for the volunteers, to sponsor waste bags or Clean Up T-shirts to spread the word and share with the local newspaper.
You can find Kay Tours Mexico on Facebook, Instagram, and a Podcast on Soundcloud (this one particular Podcast I link to is an interview with me 😉
And here you`ll find all the informations and dates for the cleanups:
Every 1st sunday of each month (morning clean up)
Every 3rd saturday of each month (afternoon clean up)
Living single use Plastic Free in Mexico!!!
Plastic Free travel is possible here. When I say plastic free, I talk about all the daily plastic I can refuse, I can control. As usual you need to make some changes, but how boring would life be if you wouldn’t 😉 Some products are hard to find though, like cotton ear buds with a paper shaft (haven’t seen any but we had some with us), or toilet paper in paper wrap (havent found them either) or soap and shampoo bars, but I found some eventually….
- We switched from having oats and fruit for breakfast to corn flour tortillas/flatbread aka pancakes 😀 Just mix the flour with water, form some flat bread and fry them in a pan… Delicious with coconut pulp and jam and Mexican mangooooos!!! Why? Because I can’t find oats in paper or bulk, but flour!! So I am not sad about this situation that I can’t find oats, I am making the best out of it and looking for alternatives.
- I am not talking about plastic tags they put on our backpacks when boarding the plane, or plastic sealing on jam jars, or food in plastic wraps we get from our neighbors sometimes when they check out..
- I don’t talk about the toilet paper that comes in plastic here, haven’t found one wrapped in paper yet. But since we need bags for the used TP I just don’t buy any plastic bags. We use the one where the TP is packaged into or use the paper bags we get from the bakery. (and no, I don’t feel ashamed to talk about used TP :D). Always remember you can reuse plastic bags (toast bag, toilet paper wrap, etc) as garbage bags if you need any!
- We are refilling our bottles from the 5 gallon/20Liter container we buy. It is extra biceps training to carry it to our Apartment;) Or I ask in a Starbucks if they can refill my bottle.
- I drink coffee out of reusables because all of the coffee shops (besides Starbucks) are serving in reusables. They even have reusables for cold drinks!! Plastic Cups mostly, but reusable! Starbucks you could learn from all the others here 😉
- I found a small market where they sell awesome fresh produce, 90% is unwrapped, and they have nuts, seeds, grains (rice, couscous, millet, quinoa), herbs, spices in bulk!! As usual they only offer plastic bags to buy bulk, but I am traveling with my reusable produce bags, so no plastic needed! DAC Playa Del Carmen. The supermarket has heaps of unwrapped fresh produce too, Coconut Oil in glass jars, Oil and vinegar in glass, Couscous and Bulgur in paper, unwrapped soap, etc…
- I needed mosquito repellent and made my own to avoid the plastic bottles with Essential Oil and Coconut oil. Watch my Youtube Video Here: DIY Mosquito Repellent
- I always order cold drinks without straw, and we always have a coffee in the cafe, no take away. If I would like to take a way I have my own cup and container and cutlery with me.
- I even found one Shop: “Bio And Natural“, where they sell Bamboo Toothbrushes, plastic free Soap Bars, Deodorant in Paper Tubes or tins, and more…
What you can do when visiting Playa Del Carmen, Mexico?
- Don’t stay in the big resorts! They are not eco friendly in any way! Book smaller apartments and support locals!
- Bring reef safe sunscreen!!
- Join the monthly clean up (more info here)
- Order your drinks with: sin popotes por favor/no straw please. Or even bring your reusable straw if you like straws.
- Avoid drinks to go unless you have your own reusable travel mug with you! I found so many single use cups on the beach already.
- Please bring your own reusable shopping bags with you to avoid all the plastic bags!! They don’t weigh much and don’t take much space in your luggage.
- If you like to eat street food bring your own container or cutlery to avoid plastic bags, plastic cutlery, styrofoam cups, etc. (if they don’t have running water they put the plates in plastic bags because they cant clean them….)
- Buy bread from the bakery where they pack it into a paper bag. Leave the Plastic Bag Wrapped Bread on the shelfs.
Refill not landfill
- Refill your bottles from 5 gallon refillable water container to refuse single use bottles. (you can buy them in every corner store/oxxo, need to pay a deposit and you get the deposit back when returning the container)
- Ask your favorite bars, restaurants, coffeeshops to serve straws on request only.
- Order your Ice Cream in a Cone (no need for a spoon) if you don’t have a reusable spoon and cup with you.
- Bring soap bars, or buy one in the Bio and Natural Store.
- And support venues that already serve straws on request only, like BioOrganicos, Calle 26 close to 5th.
- You can find more Zero Waste or plastic free shopping possibilities in Playa in my Blog Post: Zero Waste Shops around the Globe
- If you want to check out my other articles about travel: How to refuse water bottles while traveling, How to travel plastic free, Responsible Tourism, Best Travel Filter Bottle.
Don’t pay for animal attractions!!
- Don’t pay for any experience that includes animals in cages or dolphins in Aquariums. Or mass tourist tours on turtle beaches or swimming with whales. If people make money with animals it’s mostly not an animal friendly thing. Please do your research properly before paying for any animal experiences. Also sanctuaries are mostly not as animal friendly as they might tell you.
- Go join the Samba class with my friend Jessica 🙂
- Or book a eco-tour from my friends @greenwings excursions
Enjoy your holiday and make some daily happy choices:)
thehappychoices.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We are also affiliate partner for other programs/stores like shareasale, lifewithoutplastic.com, etc.