Mexican Eco Tourism: Just say No to the popote!

While eco tourism is on the rise in Mexico, we came across a few other surprisingly little known green initiatives. Mexico is a country rich in natural resource and beauty, and with those resources come the benefits of exporting and the most obvious of those is oil. Since 2008, the country’s oil reserves have been in decline at a rate of nearly 8% annually.

La Ventosa Wind Farm

To make up for the decline in oil energy, the current Mexican administration developed the La Ventoasa wind farm, in the south western Oaxacan region. The area is situated on the thin peninsula of land between the Atlantic and the Pacific and boasts steady winds of 15-22 mph, nearly all year long. This rate is perfect for wind power generation, and a Spanish Company called Acciona Energia set up a farm in 2009 with the capacity of 250MW, enough to power a city with the population of 500,000 inhabitants.

The La Ventosa wind farm did not come without its share of controversy with the local mostly Zapotec indigenous tribes people complaining that they were not given much in return for the use of their land, and were only thought of as cheap labor while foreigners resold the energy outside of Mexico. As recent as 2010, CFE, the Mexican monopoly that controls much to all of the nations electric power, won contracts to resell renewable energy to Mexico’s Latin American neighbors of Guatemala, Belize and the energy hungry metropolis of Los Angeles in the US. These contracts stand to be lucrative for CFE, so investment in the La Ventosa wind project has increased. At the time of this writing, we could not find any updated information on the quantity of the wind mills, which last stood at 167 as counted in late 2009, but from a recent drive through the area there seemed to be a considerable amount more. If anyone has more recent information on this project, we would be glad to accept and update our information.

Plastic Bag Ban in Mexico City

Another initiative which recently passed was the ban of plastic bag use in Mexico city, in August of 2010. The fines for not complying are as stiff as $90,000USD. The law restricts shoppers and grocers to only using bio degradable bags, and is believed to have eliminated an estimated 20 million bags annually from Mexico City and the surrounding area.

Eco/Green Tourism

There is a new brand of tourism which is growing in popularity among the more environmentally conscious traveler, Green Tourism. A recent interview with the Hacienda Tres Rios on the Riviera de Maya illustrates the success they’ve seen by following greener codes of building, selecting more sustainable building materials, using more eco-friendly design, and the benefits of educating local and foreign visitors on how to protect and enjoy Mexico’s natural environment. Many of the most popular tours in Mexico, such as zip lining, cenote diving, horseback riding, jungle tours, diving and surfing all encourage saving and protecting the environment. This new strategy on tourism is having impact on the way people think about how they make their business, and surely any good business man knows that if the people are coming to go diving, they shouldn’t be throwing their trash into the water. The same goes with the public beaches. Many coastal towns are having a more serious look at how they can keep their own roads and beaches more clean, to attract tourism attention.

Cuponismo’s Sin Popote Campaign

One of the few peeves I have about living in Mexico is the automatic addition of the plastic drinking straw to each drink order. Think about the life span of a straw. It takes petroleum to create this item, to transport it, to encase it in a plastic sheath, and then it’s thoughtlessly plopped into each drink, while the unwitting drinker sucks down their drink with absolutely no added value,  the straw is thrown out after a few minutes of use while it takes 100 years to decompose.  After doing a bit of research on this useless item, it can be calculated that if every person uses one to two straws per day, or meal,  over a decade 37,000 straws would be added to the local land fill. Do the math on the 100,000,o0o population for Mexico alone, and you can quickly see how dangerous this single item can be. In Spanish the straw is called popote, so the next time you happen to be in a restaurant, whether here in Mexico or at home, ask for you drink without the straw or sin popote.

I ask that you mention this to your waiter, or your friend the next time you’re in Mexico, and are ordering a drink, please ask for it sin popote.

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