Tuesday night, Campeche’s Feria Zero-Waste (FZW) came to a close with yet another groundbreaking event. This time, guests enjoyed a delicious farm-to-table dinner made from organic and packaging-free produce, served up live by Enrique Ortiz of La Maria Cocina Peninsular on the roof-top terrace of Casa Balché — undoubtedly central Campeche’s finest view.
Such spectacles serve to transform the way we think about — and thus interact with — different facets of our societies. If Ortiz can cook high-class cuisine that honors zero-waste principles, as well as integrate said principles into Tripadvisor’s #1 ranked restaurant in Campeche out of 136, the ubiquitous question of “what do we need?” becomes synonymous with “what do we have?”
In many ways, this was the central vision of Feria Zero-Waste: to inspire us to reframe our perspective. The way things are currently is not the way they have to be — in fact, they will need to change if we want any sort of future for ourselves and our grandchildren. Thankfully, the FZW exposed us to the exciting ease with which we can all take steps towards reducing our footprint.
A clear case in point was the standard-bearer Zero-Waste Showhome, which was open to the public throughout the weekend. Here, attendees were taken on tours through a house where everything — from the cleaning products, to furniture, to food — was either made naturally on site or sourced from a sustainable producer. After seeing for themselves how they could implement zero-waste principles in their own home, guests explored the festival’s dozens of sustainable vendors, sourcing products like organic lotion, second-hand clothing, and of course, scrumptious vegan burritos. Add to this the premiere of Plastic Oceans International’s new documentary about turtle conservation along the Campeche coast, as well as lectures on sustainable menstruation and waste management in schools, and the FZW illuminated a reality that is too often ignored or denied: living zero-waste can not only be easy, but it can significantly benefit your life in various ways.
“Notwithstanding their positive environmental impact, products made from natural ingredients are also much better for our bodies, as they don’t contain the toxins found in most store-bought products,” says Victoria Mosca, an activist who helped organize the FZW. “And if you opt to make your own products, you save so much money over the long-term, as most of what you need only requires a few basic ingredients — many of which, if not all, you already have.”
Take the general-use cleaning product displayed in the Zero-Waste Showhome, for example. Have some used citruses laying around? Instead of tossing them in the trash, put them in a bucket, dilute them with water, and after 5 days, you’ll have an all-natural cleanser to use throughout your house — sans waste and free of cost.
Simple innovations like these are revolutionizing the way people view consumerism. Why drive to Walmart to spend 200 pesos on a fluorescent product made with ingredients you can’t pronounce, when you could reuse something you already have, and be more environmental, healthy, and economical in the process?
With that, it is clear that though the FZW may be over, the tools and ideas shared here will contribute to significant lasting change. After all, the solution does not have to be a grandiose reversal of everything you’ve ever known; it is a collection of small shifts to the way you buy, use, and reuse — and, equally as important, a series of compassionate conversations with friends and family about how they too can reduce their footprint, and work towards a life free of plastic, toxic synthetic chemicals, and waste.
Don’t worry — you are not alone in this journey. The Campeche community that worked so hard to organize the FZW is only getting started, and anyone can get involved. In many ways, this is why the festival was such a success; it was not imposed by some CEO thousands of miles away, but spawned from years of collective effort by a cohort of local activists who have seen the impacts of pollution and waste in their own communities and want to make a change. These people care, these people are connected, and these people aren’t going anywhere. So whether you visit the weekly Mercado Verde at El Refugio Xaman Ek, or volunteer with Campeche’s nascent turtle conservation initiative, come join the movement — because there is a better planet waiting for all of us, and the path forward could not be clearer.
Isaiah Maynard for Times Media Mexico
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