Cero Basura’s Organic Waste Program Manager Jaresy Plata Featured in The Ripple Haven Video Series with Amanda DuBois!

Cero Basura’s Organic Waste Program Manager Jaresy Plata Featured in The Ripple Haven Video Series with Amanda DuBois!

Activist, lawyer and award-winner author Amanda DuBois interviews Cero Basura’s Organic Waste Program Manager Jaresy Plata about Alianza Cero Basura’s community-led organic waste farm and its importance for the health of both our soil and our community.

Message from Amanda DuBois in her Ripple Haven newsletter about her interview with Cero Basura’s Jaresy Plata:

“Once I settled into our new home in Todos Santos, I began to look around to see how I could get involved in the community. My first question was “what speaks to my heart here, and how can I help?” And, of course, the thing that strikes all of us who visit or live in Southern Baja is the natural beauty. And then – how quickly the population is growing. It made me wonder about our impact on this natural wonderland.

As it turned out, my friend and neighbor, Bryan Jauregui, had been instrumental in founding an organization that has the goal of making Todos Santos the first zero waste tourist destination in Mexico. Now, there’s a cause I could totally support! Next thing I knew, Bryan and I were the first two proud members of the fundraising committee for Cero Basura BCS. (the Zero Waste Alliance of Baja California Sur). 

As I dug in to learn more about the programs the organization has been developing to deal with the mounting waste problem here, I had the opportunity to get to know an amazing young woman, Jaresy Plata. She’s the manager of the organic waste program at Cero Basura – and oh boy – have I ever learned a lot from her. When I asked her if I could feature her in my newsletter as a for the Ripple Haven newsletter, she jumped at the chance. That is, after we had a lively discussion of what a “ripple effect” is. You see, the term “ripple effect” does not translate directly into Spanish. “It was a fresh concept for me,” laughed Jaresy. But as we explored the whole idea of a ripple effect, Jaresy came alive – explaining what she does and how it affects the entire community here.  ​

Jaresy grew up in Neuvo Leon, a state in Northeastern Mexico. A true scientist and academic at heart, she earned a master’s in forestry science specializing in soil, Jaresy has long been fascinated by the interconnectedness of communities and the environment- so this educational journey spoke to her natural interests. Everything has an influence on what surrounds it. And Jaresy wanted to study that and find a way to make an impact on the enviornment. 

Here’s a bit of what I learned from Jaresy:

In Todos Santos and the surrounding community, 60% of the garbage going into the landfill is compostable organic waste. “One of the most produced waste in terms of organic is the citrus, in part, because tourists love margaritas,” Jaresy threw out during our interview. Then there’s wide-spread palm tree debris. When put into a landfill, this mix of organic waste will often spontaneously combust, lighting up and contaminating materials next to it, and burning the whole landfill causing a toxic plume of smoke that wafts across the area. And this happens in a region with severe depletion of soil nutrients – what a waste! 

Jaresy is making up for lost ground. She leads a sustainable composting program, preventing toxic waste from leaking into the groundwater. Jaresy explains the problem like this- “If you put a lot of organic waste into a bucket, you see how the liquids start coming out of it right? Nobody likes the smell of it,” she laughed. But when we put that organic waste into the landfill, it leaks all over the other stuff in the landfill, like batteries and rubber, and that organic liquid breaks down whatever’s adjacent to it. That means that toxic waste travels down into the groundwater and contaminates it. That same groundwater ends up in our houses and in the ocean where it has an overwhelming impact on oceanic diversity. 

Jaresy’s ripple effect is monumental. By keeping organic waste out of landfills, not only is she creating nutrient rich fertilizer for the local agriculture, she’s protecting not just our household water, but the ocean. As Jaresy explained, when the imbalanced groundwater drains out into the Pacific, it feeds the algae, causing a huge imbalance between the algae and the sea life. The impact spreads to the whole web of life in the ocean.

Now that the problem has been identified, the solution has come into focus. It starts with keeping organic waste out of landfills. Jaresy teaches the importance of composting to the entire community- from elementary students at the local schools to the new residents moving here from all over the world. When we compost everything from citrus remnants to organic restaurant waste to palm tree landscaping waste, we put nutrients back into the soil. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It protects groundwater. It saves the sea. A real full-circle moment. It doesn’t matter that there’s no easy Spanish translation for ripple effect- we see it in action every single day in the work of Jaresy Plata and her team. 

Here’s a profound takeaway I gained from Jaresy. This is a universal lesson for any goal. Focus on the big picture objective—but not on one single solution. Taking a whole lot of different approaches will likely lead us to bigger, faster wins.

Jaresy works with landscapers, restaurants and hotels, communities, palm groves, pig farms that consume some organics, and do-it-yourself composters on all levels. 

She’s changing the nature of Todos Santos and the surrounding communities by teaching us to stop throwing stuff away and instead to toss out ripple effects everywhere. Donate to Alianza Cero Basura

XOXO,

Amanda”

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