The Amigos de Bucerias Recycling Program
The Amigos de Bucerias organization (AdB, or simply, Amigos) is a non-profit umbrella for many valuable local causes, one of them being the recycling of plastic, which in turn pays for replacement lightbulbs for all of the 780 streetlights in our town. http://amigosdebucerias.org
You’ve no doubt noticed and used the wire recycling baskets disbursed throughout Bucerias. Those baskets are built, delivered, repaired and emptied by AdB volunteers. Dave advises, “About once a year we have a basket making party.”
Interested in finding out a little more about the program, I tagged along with one of the recycling teams as they covered their designated area. On a recent early morning, (I had to set my alarm!), I climbed into the Amigos’ truck at the corner of Javier Mina and Lázaro Cárdenas, and Dick, Dave, Mark, and I headed for the recycling yard. Located just off Estaciones, the trailer is waiting in the yard, ready to be hooked up to the truck. After preparing and stocking up supplies for the morning’s activities, we were ready to roll.
Dick drove while Dave and Mark “swept” the route, emptying each basket into large black plastic bags. I learned much of the story as Dick maneuvered around town and Dave and Mark jumped in and out of the truck.
It goes a little like this…
The purpose of the recycling program is to keep plastic off the streets and beaches, and out of the ocean and landfill site. Different teams cover different areas, and the entire town’s baskets are emptied weekly. Plastic is dumped from the baskets into large black garbage bags and placed on the trailer for delivery back to the yard. While emptying the baskets, it’s necessary to check for, and separate, aluminum cans and trash. The garbage bags are pricey, so the volunteers empty them into the giant “jumbos” at the yard and reuse the bags for as long as possible.
I’m not sure of the exact size of a jumbo but I’m betting you could hold a party in one.
Materiales Monroy, a building supply company in Mezcales, shreds the plastic and then sells it. They return 2.8 pesos per kilogram to the AdB. Dick advised, “Monroy goes right to the yard to pick up, and they bring back the empty jumbos. There can be as many as 100 jumbos in the yard waiting to be picked up by Monroy.” Jumbos are the very large white bags you see in the photo above.
I asked each of the gentlemen, “Why are you committed to the recycling project?”
Dick answered, “There’s a social aspect, and I gotta get off the couch to be perfectly honest with you.” Dick is the longest standing Amigo member of the three, and has previously held the position of Treasurer with the AdB, but says, “Now I do recycling and streetlight repair. It kind of keeps me off the street…or actually, on the street!” He tells me he knows enough Spanish to get into trouble but not enough to get out of it.
Dave and Mark share feelings of giving back. “We all know how lucky we are to be here, I mean, this is paradise.” And, “Its nice to get out in the community.” They both have participated in the recycling project in different capacities for several years.
Integral to the overall success of the recycling program is Neil Lamb, a long-time Amigos member. Neil schedules the recycling teams, arranges for sponsored banners on the baskets, and collects monies from Monroy. I’m sure he does much more, but he’s too modest to say.
Read some history and see the list of what can and cannot be recycled: http://amigosdebucerias.org/volunteering/recycling
Pesos received from the recycled plastic go toward covering costs for streetlight replacement. Dick oversees this project with a carefully maintained spreadsheet, receiving messages from anyone who wishes to report a burned out bulb. If that’s you, here’s how to do it:
The AdB have painted a four inch white square with a number on each light post. Dick says, “You’ll find it about eyeball level.” (If you’re my height, look up.) Contact email@example.com and advise the name of the street and the number on the post. That’s it.
Dick describes the process of switching out bulbs. Based on his documentation, “The city sends a (bucket) truck with two or three guys and I go around with them and point out which lights are out.” The city supplies the truck and the men, and the Amigos supply the lightbulbs. The bulbs cost about 120 pesos for sodium vapour, and are being replaced with CFL compact fluorescents at 220 pesos per. Each gives off equal light, but the CFL is high quality and energy-saving. There are also seven light poles in Bucerias that do not have access to electricity, so rechargeable solar lights are installed.
How You Can Help
Here’s a neat opportunity – you can support the AdB by sponsoring a recycling basket. For just 300 pesos, have your name displayed on a banner attached to the basket. Or, on behalf of a friend or local business, show your gratitude with a banner in their name. What a unique Christmas gift! Of course, cash donations are always accepted through the Amigos de Bucerias website and are well used for the expensive black garbage bags and various supplies. Also, visit their site to learn about their fundraising efforts for truck payments…that story begins with a terrific philanthropic deed.
Lovers of Bucerias, can you donate something truly valuable, especially right now? Due to the pandemic, many of the Amigo’s members are understandably not returning this year. Their absence leaves plenty of spaces to fill on the recycling schedule. Please consider becoming a member of the recycling team. I mean, really, have you ever even been to a basket making party?
Let’s have a round of applause for all the recycling volunteers! We thank you for your lead in this important environmental commitment, and for enhancing the security on our streets through well maintained lighting.
To Volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org