Those of you who have visited us in Mexico will no doubt be aware of Angel’s can obsession. It all started out quite innocently and light-hearted but over the months developed into something of a fixation for him.
Ever since The GoPro Family has been diving, we have been finding garbage under the water. The extent of the problem was highlighted when we organized our Dive Against Debris in the Philippines and ever since we have carried out our own personal dive against debris each time we go for a dive, picking up any garbage that we find. When we collected and sorted all the debris and found out just what humans were throwing into our oceans, it got me thinking about the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle.
So when we were about to start our first IDC here in Playa del Carmen with Pro Dive Mexico, Angel had an idea. We would ask each of our IDC candidates to think each time they bought a drink, and not to throw away any of their cans or bottles, but instead to give them to us to collect and later recycle. Obviously refilling of water containers and buying returnable drinks bottles is the best option but where this was not possible we asked our candidates to choose aluminum cans rather than plastic bottles when buying drinks as the recycling process is more energy efficient and therefore better for the environment.
We set up our recycling bins in our classrooms, and whenever the IDC candidates were out and about - at the cenotes, around the pool, or on the ferry over to Cozumel, Angel would collect everyone’s cans to take home to add to the collection. We also gave each candidate their own mug to reuse during the IDC and beyond, instead of those horrible plastic cups.
But like I said, this eco-friendly mission soon became an obsession and Angel was collecting cans from everywhere and anywhere. I even caught him going through the garbage bin at the dive shop and by our pool searching for cans to save from the landfill. Also, he didn’t stop at aluminum cans – we had plastic, steel cans and cardboard joining the collection. Our modest back yard soon resembled a junk yard!
But we continued our venture and finished up our last IDC of 2012 with a lot of junk which we sold to the recyclers and made US$50.00, which The GoPro Family matched, donating US$100 to Project AWARE. Yay! The whole venture was a great way to show just how much we throw away in a short space of time, and I would say that we learnt from it. Even if the garbage was recycled, it still means that energy is being used to sort, clean, process and make new products, and we are forgetting about the other two Rs – Reduce and Reuse.
Now The GoPro Family is looking to find ways to recycle less by reducing the amount of plastics and cans that we consume, and reusing where possible. We are shopping at the local store rather than the large supermarket chains because that way we can buy our drinks in larger returnable glass and plastic thus reducing the amount of individual bottles and cans that we buy and send for recycling. A small way to help the environment and to keep my back yard clean as well.