Las Mujeres de Sayulita is a growing and powerful group of women in the Sayulita community working together to bring environmental awareness and action to our Pueblo Magico. Many stores in the community as well as our neighboring areas such as Punta de Mita are already implementing the “no more plastic bag” idea, but more work is needed in order to spread awareness, and help reduce plastic waste. The Mujeres’ first and recent project as a team was to reduce the use of plastic bags in our community, and it has proven to be a large success. Working in coordination with the 9th grade students at Colegio Costa Verde school, they have helped to reduce the amount of plastic bags used in Sayulita by providing a program for reusable canvas bags, and a plan for how the local stores and tiendas can use them.
To achieve this goal, the Mujeres’ group first created a GoFundMe page about a month ago to raise the money needed to design and order the first batch of reusable bags. Furthermore, they created a plan for how to distribute the bags to the interested businesses, and they then wrote letters/proposals explaining their ideas for the campaign and the process for how the stores could buy and sell the bags to their customers. In the letters, the group asked all interested businesses to begin charging anywhere from $2 to $5 pesos for plastic bags; this would discourage the need, use, and dependence on plastic, and would instead encourage customers to bring their own bags in order to avoid paying an extra fee. The proposals then offered that businesses could order customized Sayulita reusable bags, and sell these directly to their customers instead. This would be a win-win both for the business, and for our local environment. The selling of the bags to the tiendas would continue to raise money to provide more funds to help order more reusable bags in the future in order to sustain the program.
Meanwhile, as the Mujeres’ group was devising their plan, 9th grade students in Ms. Taheri’s English & Civics class at Colegio Costa Verde School were working on a civic action research project called “Be the Change”. In this project, students studied local environmental or social issues which negatively impact our community, conducted research, wrote argumentative proposals, and brainstormed possible solutions to these problems. One group’s topic of study was pollution/waste in Nayarit (specifically on our beaches), and the negative effects of this on our environment. The project required them to come up with possible feasible solutions that they could put into action to help be the change. The class decided the most attainable and realistic solution to focus on was to try to get more stores in town to reduce the use of plastic bags. This is when the class discovered the plan that the Mujeres’ group was putting into place, and decided to reach out to collaborate to make change.
Next, the students went out into the community with their self-made persuasive handouts and media, presented about the issue, and asked businesses if they would be willing to no longer use plastic bags. Using their persuasive speaking skills and research, they gave their pitch to many local stores and got many to agree. The students then shared this list with the Mujeres group, and thus, began the partnership to make change in Sayulita.
Continuing, on February 5th, 2019, the students met with representatives from the Mujeres’ group, and both the students and the representatives went together into the community to distribute the proposals/letters and show the tiendas the designs for the reusable bags. With their combined efforts, they were able to get at least 5 major tiendas in town to agree to charge if a customer needs a plastic bag, and to order batches of reusable bags! Additionally, at least 5 other local stores expressed interest and wanted to meet for more information.
This is a huge and very important first step in making an incredibly positive change in our community to help spread awareness about this issue and to reduce the use of single-use plastic. It is inspiring to see our local youth taking action to help their environment, and to see them collaborating with others in the community.
The reusable bags will be delivered to the tiendas in the next two weeks. Stores will be putting out signs to warn customers that they will soon be charging a small fee for plastic bags, and to remind them to bring their own reusable bags from home.
Keep your eyes open for the reusable canvas bags that say “Tod@s Sayulita” which will appear on our local streets very soon! If you’d like to order bags, either for yourself or your business, please contact Susan Haas. Discounts may be given for stores that buy in bulk. Thank you to the work of Las Mujeres and the students at CVIS.
*Written by: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri