All the fruits of Mexico? Read n’ share…

by

The Small Town, Mexico Crew

by Cheryl Lohrmann

International Plastic Quilt Project, Tiny Gulf Town, Mexico
Well during the course of this project in Mexico, it was decided by the head of Leave No Plastic Behind, me, to name this project the International Plastic Quilt Project. Granted we’ve been calling it this for about a year now, and http://www.LNPB.org will continue to take you to our website for a bit, but it’s official, now. LNPB will always be a part of the history of Create Plenty, but no longer the name for the plastic-free challenge and art shows and such. President Bush’s flopped No Child Left Behind educational program has been discontinued and the joke is no longer fresh. We are phasing out the Facebook page and the website both to have fewer names, and also to reflect the kind of systemic work Create Plenty is doing. Like LNPB, the International Plastic Quilt Project is the outreach and education campaign work that needs to happen alongside the research and the policy-making. Education is the antidote to the money that is put into the campaigns that supports business as usual, the continual externalization of the environmental, social and health problems associated with synthetic products. On the solution side, training and incentives will make the alternatives to plastic so much juicier than the garbage manufactured to manipulate our taste buds and trash Mexico, among other magical places and their beings.

The IPQP is not the only project addressing this problem, thank goodness. It was confirmed to me, while here in Mexico, that this problem needs as many programs, gimmicks and viral campaigns as there is energy to produce them. These campaigns cannot just stick with people who have access to Facebook, however. They need to leave the United States and the technological realm as much they need to remain there, now. It needs to be in the nooks and crannies of the earth.In the towns where there is no running water all hours of the day. Where they look at you really funny when you say you want them to bring their plastic trash to the next workshop because they’re going to work with it. Where, in spite of the year-round sunny weather, they rarely eat fruit and opt instead for packaged corn chips afflicted with different sprinklings of flavor and fizzy Coca-Cola products disguised (between telenovellas selling centralized soap, salsa, and make-up) as cool, as refreshment or as both. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

In the comparatively progressive forward-thinking town of Portland, Oregon, many now know that we need to squeeze abundance out of our resources, in spite of a climate not favorable for growing passion fruit, mamey, cuyamito, grapes, nance, ciruela, ciricote, huaya, papaya, mangos, pineapple, pinuela, star fruit, figs, tamarinds, oranges, sweet and sour, grapefruit, melons, watermelon, sweet and sour, plantains, zapotes, huayaba, pitaya, saramullo, guanabana, lemons, coconut, limes, avocado and several others sure to upset my English-centric word-processing software. It is easy to see how good Mexico has it, if only they thought about it. Or if only their government would actively condone it, or if only Coca-Cola wasn’t controlling their government, whatever the case may be (Mexico is the number one consumer of soft drinks, 70% are Coke products and there are numerous accounts of its controlling influence particularly at election time. Its ex-president Vicente Fox was an executive at Coca-Cola before his election).

Town by town may not be the answer, but it needs to be a world-wide and consciously joint effort. The IPQP wants to bring all the efforts under one roof, yes, that would feel nice, but it also wants you to know that it knows that the problem needs to be solved systematically and with other groups doing a little bit of the same. With Create Plenty, this is now underway.

In Mexico this month we made squares that will travel around Mexico this year. Next stop, the big city of Merida, Yucatan where a group of scouts and another group of energetic and art-loving senoras are eager to begin in some way. We had both adults and children participate in making their own deodorant and toothpaste this past weekend at the art opening and in a workshop a few days before. They were fascinated by how simple it was to make an effective product. We gave them the recipes for other basics, like shampoo, and they wanted to make them the next day, please, if possible. In my developing Spanish, I told them that apple cider vinegar is perfect for conditioning their horse, but I meant hair. We had fun, they learned, we were humbled, but satisfied that we had done what we set out to do sooner rather than later. We didn’t wait for someday since it is now. Captain Charles Moore, on David Letterman about a week ago, said that the plastic plague in our oceans does not feel like the crisis that it is since its effects will be felt over time. Meanwhile we keep adding to the problem. Sound familiar?

It’s a beautiful crisis because its solutions are juicy, job-developing, skill-sharing, life-giving and abundance-creating. They taste good and they feel good. Kind of like junk food, but without plastic and the high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated palm and/or canola oil.

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