Concern over Single Use Plastics in the Andes in Ecuador

Plastics seem to be everywhere, even in the 7 mile depths of the Mariannas Trench in the Pacific and points nearly as exotic.  But popular concern is growing, as the active discussions in Florida and elsewhere so clearly confirm.

Recently, I was heartened to see similar concern and consciousness in the remote areas of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, where I was traveling for a nephew’s wedding to a wonderful Ecuadorian girl. 

Wandering around the tourist sights at 8,000 feet in the provincial towns around Quito, I encounter impressive indications of committed environmental stewardship, so much so that I feel compelled to relate them to you here.

First, stopping at a nice lake side restaurant  “Hosteria Puerto Lago” outside of the provincial market town of Otovalo, 8,000 feet in the Andes near the foot of an impressive volcano, I was pleased to see that they stressed the need to minimize one’s plastics footprint.  As you can see from the notices posted, they convey a clear message that we along the Emerald Coast should emulate.  Imagine, pasta straws as a choice.

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https://www.puertolago.com/

In the year 2050 we will have more plastic in our seas than fish

Hostería Puerto Lago, proudly committed to nature and the care of the environment, decided to make a series of changes and investments to stop producing large amounts of plastic trash.

Replacing the plastic straws by pasta straws (biodegradable in 10 days), water bottles with glass cups (purified water) soda bottles, ice tea etc, with dispenser served in glass cups, plastic bottles in the rooms by glass vases.

We also use biodegradable detergent to avoid contamination of soil and water.  

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A quick web search yields a number of reasonably priced sources for the kind of straws our far away Ecuadorian colleagues are adopting.

 Equally interesting and colorful was the recycling bin that I found at the Ethnographic Museum “Middle of the Earth” at La Mitad del Mundo, a small city which makes its living from its location astride the Equator.  Eco-Bicy, Recicla Aqui the sign said, and its beauty draws gets one’s attention -- and its share of plastic bottles for recycling.

And, in addition to the environmental concerns of those living in Ecuador’s “Middle of the Earth”, we enjoyed a simple lab experience at the Museum that I must pass on in this article, an experiment demonstrating the famous “Coriolis Effect” whereby the rotation of the earth leads to clockwise weather rotations in the Southern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere,  Our museum guide demonstrated water draining from a basin on the precise Equator, and from competing basin drains just two meters on either side of the Equator, with the draining water circling in opposite directions.  For sure, you had to be there, but it’s amusingly fun science all the same.

A great trip, a reaffirmation in the commitment of friends in Ecuador to minimizing single use plastics, and a return to the daily effort back home to continue our joint efforts to increase local support for a plastics free environment.

Coordinator ECCWA