In two days I am leaving for a four week trip in Mexico – wooohooo! I will be traveling through the program called RCDP where I will stay with a host family and volunteer in a Special Education School. I have done these kinds of trips before and they have always been unforgettable! This time however, I have the added challenge of being “basura cero”.
Although I have not been to this part of Mexico (I will be staying in Melaque/Barra de Navidad, Jalisco), based on previous visits to Latin and South America, recycling isn’t a huge priority. And I don’t think I have met a single person there that composts (although I know quite a few now through Instagram that are helping the movement along!). So let’s just say that I am feeling a little apprehensive in my chances of pulling off a zero waste trip there.
In order to give you an idea of what I am doing to try to prep for the unexpected, I decided to show you exactly what I am packing (and yes, that includes the “unmentionables” as well so close your eyes little kiddos!). Hopefully, I can later use this information to reflect on what I didn’t need, what I used every day, and what I really wish I had brought along!
Here is a picture of all of the clothing I am bringing:
Here is my bathroom/medication: (this picture was lost when moving my blog to the new platform)
Here is the miscellaneous stuff that I couldn’t fit in another category: (this picture was lost when moving my blog to the new platform)
And finally, here is what I am calling my Zero Waste Prep Kit: (this picture was lost when moving my blog to the new platform)
This is really my first time traveling zero waste. I did a short trip last summer but it was to my grandparent’s house and was familiar territory. Thinking about it, I think I have several challenges to face during my trip in Mexico.
1. Living with a host family: I have no idea what kind of food products my host family chooses to purchase. In my program fee, I pay the host family for room and board which includes three meals a day. If they choose to purchase plastic covered products, would I refuse to eat them? Doubtful. I invested my money already and I also wouldn’t want to seem rude. But do I count it in my trash jar? This has been a very tricky question for me and after much deliberation, I don’t think I will. If, of course, I choose to eat something personal like a granola bar, snack, or pre-packaged treat, I will save the wrapper and add it to my pile. But I think trying to calculate how much of their groceries is “my trash” would be difficult and, in some ways, pointless for me. My hope is to influence them on alternatives out there and hopefully show them some of the ways I cook without the waste!
2. Lack of recycling: True. I don’t actually know if they have recycling in my little city. But either way, it probably won’t be anywhere close to the level we have here in Bellingham. I think some items I will store in my suitcase and bring back home to recycle such as loose plastics.
3. Lack of composting: What should I do with my apple cores and banana peels??? I will do my best to finish what is on my plate but some things I just can’t muster down! Hopefully I can find out if there is someone locally who would be willing to have me drop off my few items. Otherwise, my stomach will be my best resource on this one.
4. Drinking water: I don’t have a clear knowledge of whether the drinking water in my little city is actually drinkable. I have packed a water filter and a water purifier in case it isn’t. But in some places even that wouldn’t be enough. It would make it very hard to refill my water bottle anywhere if tap water is a no-go. Plastic water bottles then become some of my only options for clean, safe water. Hopefully it won’t come to that! But if it does, I hope to be able to recycle them there.
And that’s that. My plan. I know. It’s a lot of questions and a lot of hoping on my part but it’s the best I can do this time around! Those of you who have had experience traveling zero waste, what should I have packed? What challenges am I not accounting for? How have you connected with local resources?
Once I return, I’ll have “Parte 2” to report back on my experience!