Since 2019, the MazConCiencia collective has been promoting a series of initiatives to reduce the number of waste that reaches the sea in Mazatlan. A bio-fence and a series of cigarette holders are his most successful projects.
Every second more than 200 kilos of plastic are thrown into the oceans. 70 percent goes to the seabed and 15 percent stays floating, according to data from the Aquae Foundation. These impressive data help us become aware of the serious pollution problem facing these ecosystems.
A group of Mazatlan professionals decided not to sit idly by and began to seek concrete actions to fight locally for pollution-free Pacific beaches. And they plan to go for more.
MazConCiencia is the name of this group in which Sofía Trejo, Balbina Herrera and María Esther Juárez participate, who have proposed to work together to carry out their projects. “We do not handle donations of money, only time, materials and labor,” says Trejo in an interview with Amonite.
A barrier against debris
In 2019 they created their first project, the “ biobarda ”: a floating garbage container placed at the exit of an estuary that connects with the Mazatlán navigation channel. This water comes from neighborhoods where there is a serious problem of garbage and poor disposal of waste, so it helps to retain a large amount of waste that would otherwise end up in the sea.
“It is not an invention of ours, it is a replica of a project that was already done in Guatemala and that has worked in rivers. We put it on the Juárez bridge, and it was done in collaboration with students from the Mazatlán Institute of Technology and with contributions from companies in the fishing sector, ” says Trejo, who is a marine food engineer.
At first, the members of the group thought that the biofence was retaining little garbage, but when the first rain came, they realized the magnitude of their intervention: 30 tons of garbage that helped to clean and at the same time to visualize the problem of waste that reaches the sea. “It was an odyssey to get those 30 tons out, you could stand on it. It was a meter thick, between branches and trash,” says Trejo.
A contribution of recycled materials
They currently have two biobardas in strategic places in the port of Mazatlan, where they have managed to retain up to 180 tons of garbage. Something that, according to Trejo, fills them with satisfaction but also with concern.
“We have not been able to get the authorities to commit to penalizing people who do not dispose of their garbage correctly, or to create a strategy or public policy that achieves this change in mentality, but hey, 180 tons is a great achievement.”
These biobardas are made with recycled material such as PET and fishing nets. To build them, they were supported by schools, who did all the collecting of PET plastic, and a company from Mazatlan, Pesca Azteca, who provided recycled buoys from tuna boats.
Cigarette butts, the next target
However, this was only the beginning. From the cleaning days that the group carries out on the beaches of Mazatlan, they realized that one of the most common residues in the sand, in addition to plastic, is cigarette butts , so they implemented some butts so that people can dispose of these wastes in a specific place.
Last year, before Easter, 24 colilleros “cigarette but collectors” were installed in Mazatlán, 22 in Altata, and 7 in Culiacán. In less than 6 months, 28,000 cigarette butts were collected. However, many colilleros were lost in a hurricane as they could not be removed in time. But that doesn’t discourage them. This year they returned to place 22 colilleros. “All this is an extra job, we don’t live from this, we do it during our break hours or on weekends.”
“To think that the authorities are going to solve everything for us is to melt you down. I think that society has the solution in its hands, of not consuming so many disposable products, of demanding public policy from our authorities, of applying the regulations,” says Trejo. “We have to put a little more effort into it as a society to conserve our natural resources.”