In 2013, EcoLogic held a competition among its partner organizations, with the goal of recognizing community-led innovation with a $10,000 prize. Our Honduran partner, the Alliance of Municipalities of Central Atlántida (MAMUCA), was selected as the winner of the EcoLogic Innovation Award and they invested the funds to pilot their recycling exchange shop concept.
Now, two years later, we are elated that the shops continue to grow, all on their own. This is a case that truly demonstrates the potential of locally-sourced, locally-led innovation: MAMUCA had the idea, EcoLogic added enough financial support to get the wheels turning, and community members take it from there!
Our Project Technician with MAMUCA, Víctor Daniel Escobar, provides us with the most current update below…
This was an original idea from MAMUCA—EcoLogic’s local partner in our Towns for Environmental Corridors and Communities. MAMUCA has established exchange stores, where you can receive school supplies or even food in exchange for dropping off recyclable materials. Members of local water councils – community groups with which EcoLogic partners to protect natural water sources – run the stores. So, for example, in each area where there is a water council and an exchange store, a community member can bring in plastic bottles (PET), aluminum, iron, or any other recyclable and receive a pound of beans, a pound of rice, butter, or soap, for example. Or, what we have experienced here with the water council of El Pino and with the schools we work with in the community of Arizona, kids basically collect bottles and aluminum cans from the streets, forests, and rivers and they receive school supplies in exchange—like pencils, pens, notebooks, erasers, markers, colored pencils, crayons, and things like that. So it’s always an exchange.
After piloting the exchange store concept in the community of La Unión, it was replicated in Santa Ana. Now, five communities have exchange stores! At this time, we’re really focusing on schools and children for this project because students can easily receive school supplies and because it teaches, reaffirms, and incentivizes the necessity to clean up our natural environment. The concept gives concrete, immediate benefits to the children when they take action to clean up their communities and environment. Also, it’s an opportunity to put into practice what they learn in the classroom related to environmental protection.
In sum, this is a very unique, exciting, and successful initiative. Many community leaders from other parts of Honduras have come to see the stores and learn from MAMUCA’s experience. In addition, the recycling stores have brought attention not to themselves, but also to other initiatives that EcoLogic and MAMUCA implement together, such as fuel-efficient stoves, wastewater drainage systems, agroforestry parcels, etc. So we’re strategically using the interest around the stores as an entry point to educate people on the variety of sustainability efforts underway in the region and how they can get involved!