Sayulita and San Pancho Recicla 2008

The small town of Sayulita sits on the Pacific Coast of Mexico about 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. For the past year a group of ex-pats and locals have been volunteering to start a recycling program. Bins are placed throughout the town, a company has recently been hired to ensure pickups are regular, and other towns - including San Pancho to the north - have begun recycling themselves. It's a grassroots movement that is taking a lot of work, both through education and separation of the materials. In December 2008, we visited Sayulita and stumbled across these folks efforts, and immediately wanted to find a way we could help. Donations can be made through the Punta de Mita Foundation.

The recycling depot in Sayulita on the Punta de Mita Highway.

The front of the depot is set up with receptacles for people stopping by to separate the recycling.

Octavio, one of Sayulita's most passionate recyclers, helps unload a truck of recycling.

In one section of the recycling depot, Octavio lives in a bare concrete room with a tent and a small kitchen.

Octavio, a raw food cook for years and an enthusiastic environmentalist, goes through stacks of magazine articles he's saved about how to save the earth.

Ramon and Octavio start loading the truck at the begining of the run.

The recycling is picked up from numerous bins around the town six days a week. The two workers begin early to try and beat the heat of the day.

As the day progresses, the truck fills up more and more. Currently, the majority of the money spent on the program goes toward fuel costs for the truck.

Because the recycling program is only about a year old, not everyone has bought into it yet. Ramon and Octavio regularly have to go through garbage filled with dirty diapers and rotten food to find recycling.

Sayulita is just one of the four towns in the Punta de Mita area taking part in the recycling program. Between the towns they are collecting up to 5 tonnes of recycling per month.

In December 2008 the Punta de Mita Foundation began paying both Ramon and Octavio a small wage to recycle. For the past year the program has been run strictly by volunteers.