After piloting the project during the summer, we left Nicaragua with new learnings and key-takeaways while delegating the full responsibility on the ground in Virgen Morena to Jaffet and the team. Happy and slightly overwhelmed, we recently received a bunch of photos, videos and updates from the fourth event organised under Jaffet’s firm direction. Seeing that the project is continued certainly marks significance in a variety of ways. First, that it actually WORKS (!) is simply astonishing. The idea has turned into persistent action and impact where hazardous plastic is continuously being recycled, knowledge about sustainability is shared and children together with their parents, friends and people from different parts of the community come together while sharing a meal over good talks. Second, it shows that ideas can only play out in practice if there is a certain degree of trust involved between the initiators. With that said, we are incredibly thankful for the time spent in Nicaragua; for meeting incredible individuals that are now part of our team - consisting of over ten permanent members. Thank you - team, donors and supporters that have made the creation of plentiful beautiful moments possible, and where more are about to come.
I remember the day Khalil called me. It was just like any other day; I was having my plain (and rather dull) breakfast bowl of oats in Denmark. It however turned out that I was getting ready to pack my bags and cross the world to go to Nicaragua for the summer. I heard his overexcited joy after a long day of catching waves in the pacific ocean along Nicaraguas coastline. He explained his first impressions from the humble people around the village and, not to forget, the incredible nature. All of a sudden, he turned serious; "but there is shitload of plastic here, I mean...it's everywhere."
In light of the ongoing political crisis that Nicaragua was facing at that time, plastic recycling seemed perhaps to be a minor detail. In April 2018, civilians started to react to governmental attempts to severely restrict the social security system, which had led to violent riots with obvious consequences for the tourism industry. Roughly 80% of the hotels and restaurants had been forced to close since the country’s infrastructure were blocked during protests and due to media's blown up headlines about chaos and uproar, few foreigners dared to make their way into Nicaragua. However, the coast was largely unaffected by the riots, but in turn, they received no foreign income, had to lay off workers, and few families could provide food for their children. The idea came like a natural response on a rhetorical question: "what if people in the community help to collect the plastic, and receive a free meal for the work they carry out?" And so, Buy Food with Plastic was born. Plastic is a huge business, and the possibilities of what you can do with plastic are endless. Still, it has to be assembled from many sources and our work has just started.