Zero Trash = Healthy Schools Project
Basura Cero = Escuela Saludable
The project was a collaborative effort between the local university, school administration, my contact and twelve local school institutions. The goal of the Zero Trash project was to promote a healthy school environment through responsible trash maintenance among institution participants. The project functioned as a weekly monitoring program to give incentive to the institutions to maintain clean school grounds, adequate trash maintenance infrastructure, and implement environmental education. The schools that participated in the environmental monitoring competition were evaluated by teams of university students receiving lab work credit. The project was successful its first year and many of the schools were more conscientious of correct trash maintenance.
The project in its second year was highly successful with over 3,500 Kg of recyclable materials being gathered by four participating schools and sold to recycling centers in Asuncion. The project was expanded to include other projects such as a battery collection campaign which collected over 300 Kg of batteries to be recycled, a weekly newsletter titled Basura Semanal, school compost bin projects, school environmental clubs and a project mascot and costume, Reddon, a robot from the planet Mars who helped promote the project throughout the schools and community. The Zero Trash project has been publicized in local and national media more than a dozen times.
Currently, the project is being adapted in several larger municipalities throughout Paraguay.
Battery Recollection Campaign
The battery collection campaign was an internal competition in the Zero Trash Project. Schools were challenged to collect batteries for the remainder of the Zero Trash Project. The winners of the battery recollection were awarded additional points toward the overall project points. More than half a dozen schools collected over 300 Kg of batteries to be recycled in less than two months. The campaign was important because a AA Battery can contaminate up to 30,000 liters of water or 15,000 two liter bottles of water.
I decided to promote the project heavily at the annual all school district sports tournament and created a mascot, Reciclon. I would tell the children, “Reciclon is a Martian Recycling Robot who has come to help earthling communities to recycle all of their inorganic materials. For every material that Reciclon recycles he is able to use the energy saved from recycling to charge the battery on his back. Reciclon must charge his battery for interplanetary travel.” Reciclon is equipped with recycling ports for all the primary recycling materials: glass, plastic, paper/carboard, and metal. Reciclon is built with an internal catchment system to gather all of the material dropped in the material slots. The idea behind Reciclon has left a lasting legacy in my community and continues to be replicated by volunteers and Paraguayan communities alike. Reciclon was reproduced with Brazilian colors on a community farm in the state of Rio de Janiero Brazil for a community trash cleanup I helped organize in the surrounding community. Both Reciclon costumes continue to be utilized to this day and the concept presents creative possibilities for promoting sustainable waste management throughout the world.