Desplastifícate Compliance in Loreto Makes a Strong Start

After the law was passed in July 2018, graphics for Desplastifícate depicted the law’s focus — plastic straws, single-use plastic bags, and styrofoam takeout containers.

Over the course of just a few days earlier this month, the scene at grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and businesses in Loreto took on a decidedly “greener” hue. The state law, passed by the state’s Chamber of Deputies on July 18, 2018, went into effect on August 16 – requiring stores to stop providing free single-use plastic grocery bags, plastic straws, and styrofoam takeout containers. At nearly every store monitored in the days following the deadline, plastics were scarce – being replaced by paper bags, cloth bags, and in some cases shoppers simply wheeling their shopping carts directly to the parking lot without using bags at all.

The 38 BCS organizations involved in the “desplastifícate” movement, including Eco-Alianza, are busily making plans to expand the law and to impact not only the use, but the manufacture of plastics. In the first phase of the movement in Baja California Sur, each of the five municipalities is responsible for implementation, monitoring, and enforcement of the law. Loreto’s Department of Ecology published a three-tier schedule of enforcement. Businesses caught in noncompliance will first be issued a formal warning. A second infraction will involve a fine, and a third will trigger a significantly larger fine.

Members of the restaurant and hotel associations met earlier this month at Eco-Alianza’s CenCoMA headquarters, where the head of Loreto’s Ecology Department discussed the compliance requirements and mentioned the specific regulations and some of the alternatives available to businesses. Although Eco-Alianza is not involved in enforcement, staff will be helping to monitor compliance and helping businesses find sustainable biodegradable alternatives. As we reported last year when the law was passed, it presents some interpretation challenges regarding the applicable biodegradability standards, because some plastics marketed as biodegradable really are to a certain extent and still contain a percentage of plastic, in addition to requiring specialized processes to be an effective solution.

Despite the challenges, Eco-Alianza President and CEO Hugo Quintero said he is very pleased with the initial compliance, and that it is clear that as a tourist-oriented destination, the local businesses see the value in showing visitors they are committed to protecting the local environment by cutting back plastic use. “The bottom line,” he said, “is that we are joining efforts protecting the health of our natural resources that we value so highly for the benefit of our own wellbeing too” by making moves toward zero waste. “The next step is to cut more single use plastics out of our waste stream.”

Eco-Alianza staff members have been making presentations at hotels and restaurants, and providing many ways that businesses can reduce their overall waste stream and incorporate recycling and reuse of certain products, as well as reducing the generation of waste. Hugo said the organizations involved in Desplastifícate in Baja California Sur are meeting in La Paz, or by Skype on a monthly basis or even more frequently to chart the next steps, which as quickly as possible will include banning all single-use plastics, including bottles and utensils, which make up a large part of the waste stream. Hugo said that manufacturers such as soft drink bottlers and retailers have reacted positively to the concept, partly because they know they have a large public relations problem fueled by articles reporting on marine litter and its impact on wildlife and clean oceans in general.

Eight other states in México already have banned all single-use plastics, so manufacturers are becoming familiar with the steps necessary to shift to returnable bottles, paper cartons, aluminum cans, or other alternatives that are more sustainable and eco-friendly. The larger goal, already begun, is to encourage the federal congress in Mexico City to reform the national ecological law with a “Mexico sin Plasticos” campaign. Working with the United Nations Environment and Development Programme, the initiative seeks to ban single-use plastics nationwide by 2023, using the national law as a successful “Indicator of Sustainable Development” as discussed at the 2012 Earth Summit.

At any rate, Hugo said, Desplastifícate is a positive step for Loreto, the marine park, the state, and the planet. Surely Dolphins and Sea Turtles would thank you if they could!

First #LoretoIdeal Forum: For a Clean Loreto

Eco-Alianza staff photo

By Karina Isabel Ramirez Trevizo

On June 19, the UABCS Loreto campus hosted an important event that marked the beginning of the realization of the objectives of the #LoretoIdeal movement. #LoretoIdeal proposes to provide public spaces and Forums for citizen participation, fostering constructive and effective debate about the agreed agenda towards a #LoretoIdeal — all of the above in the framework of a joint work between government authorities and the community (visit http://loretoideal-eng.mystrikingly.com/ )

This first Forum had representation from the 14 organizations that make up the #LoretoIdeal movement, as well as students, academics, merchants, businessmen and civil society organizations. They were accompanied by the president of the H.IX City Council, profra. Arely Arce Peralta, and directors of various areas of the municipal government, as well as the sub-secretary of sustainability of the State Government of BCS. The government officials at all times showed their support for the approaches and initiatives that were presented in the Forum in the voice of a solid team of panelists made up of specialists in the field of sustainability and ecological improvement.

Mr. Kristopher Torra (Alternative Tourism) who is a founding member of the civil association ECORRREVOLUCION explored the theme “Comprehensive waste management: reflections towards a clean Loreto” and left an important reflection in the present: “for Loreto to be Magical, it must first be Clean” and made an invitation to “make that magic happen” through our commitment to an adequate organization regarding waste management.

“The Law and the Technical Standard on single-use plastics” was the topic addressed by Mr. Luis Adrián Espino Astorga in alternative tourism who, from his tenure as municipal director of Sustainability and Ecology, struggles daily to improve Ecological Balance and Environmental protection in Loreto.

Eco-Alianza staff photo
Prof. Arely Arce Peralta, Presidenta Municipal H. IX Ayuntamiento de Loreto BCS

The Marine Biologist Mayra Gutiérrez participated as a panelist with the representation of the Alliance #Desplastificate which aims to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics in BCS. The impact of pollution on human health was addressed by Ing. Sergio Davis, representative of COEPRIS in the municipality who raised various issues that arise from improper waste management.

As a special participation was the intervention of Mr. Andrés de Los Ríos in his capacity as deputy secretary of environment and state natural resources who motivated those present to commit their efforts not only as public servants but also as responsible citizens.

All those attending the forum had the opportunity to interact with the panelists through the question and answer stage as well as the dynamics that were organized for this purpose, in addition to showing their enthusiasm to participate in the next Forum of the #LoretoIdeal movement which will be carried out soon with the priority issue that the needs of the community raise. The details of the following event will be announced through social networks and radio interviews, and registration will be carried out as in this first Forum via email or directly on the Facebook / Messenger page.

At the end of the Forum, several actions were proposed that are desirable in the short term within the framework of the entry into force of the Law on single-use plastics such as strengthening the work of Environmental Education in schools, review of strategies of collection and handling of plastics, as well as the importance of citizen participation determined and sensitive to the challenge that the issue represents.

“Nature Notes” is a monthly short feature detailing some of the wondrous, seasonal activities taking place around us.

Photos courtesy of Tom Haglund/BCS Birds
Photos from top left, clockwise:
Fiery-eyed Dancer Damselfly (Argia oenea) apparently out zigzagged this tasty flying bit.
Common Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia) has some very convincing rear-facing eye spots, but up front its real eyes are camouflaged.
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly (Strymon melinus) adds some fake antennae to the rear eye-spot ruse.
The ant with big jaws and white eyes getting ready to run to the right is actually a Jumping Spider (Phidippus sp) that is poised to make a leap to the left.

By Tom Haglund

In the universal arms race of eat or be eaten, flying crazily can have its advantages; it makes a lot of small bugs really hard to catch. As anyone who has ever hunted knows, the game is not about shooting at the spot where the intended victim is but at where it will probably be when the hunter’s bullets, arrows, spears, rocks, talons, jaws arrive. The possibility that a predator has trouble calculating where its victim is going may provide just the wee instant of confusion that will allow the sought after meal to escape. The arms race spirals ever upward because more advantageous genes in animals that are so successful they reach breeding age are passed on to their progeny, and less advantageous genes tend to wane within that population. We like to call this evolution.

An example of a constantly honed predator/prey relationship is that of the damselfly and the mosquito. Here the generations of the common food item evolve to fly ever crazier, and the amazingly fast and maneuverable predator that tries to catch them keeps producing faster and more maneuverable offspring. Some mosquitoes escape, some damselflies capture enough to eat well. If either side of the equation starts getting too good at its role the other side will need to adjust to stay in the race.

Another great escape trick that works even when the prey species is being still is that of confusing the predator with clues that belie which way the trickster will go when alerted to its peril. Some fish and butterflies do this with eye spots. Imagine your surprise when that big shiny eye seems to be on the rear of the fleeing morsel, and you just calculated the trajectory of your attack using the wrong end of the target. False antennae, legs, jaws, etc. are also employed to similar effect.

These types of escape tricks take advantage of the miniscule windows of time in which most predator/prey interactions take place. Decisions are made, plans formed and executed, and lives forever altered in less time than it takes to blink. Just as eons of time are made up of seconds, so is much of the evolution of the seemingly plodding wheel of life made up of events almost too brief to discern.

Spanish names of species mentioned:

Mosquito – Sancudo
Fiery-eyed Dancer – Caballito del Diablo
Buckeye Butterfly – Mariposa Ojo de Venado
Gray Hairstreak butterfly – Mariposa Alas de Telaraña Gris
Jumping Spider – Araña Saltadora

Rainy Season Mantra: “Be Prepared”

Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson

As we enter the “rainy season,” in Loreto, remember that it often pays to be prepared for hurricanes, extended power outages, and even being cut off from major roads. Here are some helpful hints about things to keep on hand for hurricanes, earthquakes, or other disasters:

Lists of Suggested Disaster Supplies and Additional Emergency Supplies
https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

Make an Emergency Plan, and Practice It With Your Family
https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

We hope to see you November 16!
Hotel La Mision
To celebrate Eco-Alianza’s 12th Anniversary!

Eco-Alianza staff photo
11th Anniversary GALA 2018 at CenCoMA / Eco-Alianza’s Headquarters

This year’s November 16 gala will be bigger and better than ever, with a beautiful new venue, the spectacular 5th Floor of Hotel La Mision. Panoramic views of the mountains on one side and the sea on the other will remind all of us exactly what we’re working to protect. Preparations are already underway, with some big surprises in store, so please mark your calendar. Tickets will become available in the Fall, but for information on sponsorships or to discuss donating an item or experience for the benefit auction, please contact Mark_Hufford@yahoo.com .