One negative consequence of modernization's impact in the Andes is an increase in post-consumer waste. Without adequate disposal options in rural communities, household garbage accumulates and is scattered around the countryside. Our service project will allow travelers to go into the community and help families collect waste, separate it based on recyclables, biodegradable/compostable waste, and disposable garbage and educate and promote composting and recycling efforts in local communities surrounding the Sacred Valley.
After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer to a store in Ollantaytambo to buy 3 different buckets and plastic bags, which will be used to store and carry garbage ($25 total per household for all materials to be paid locally). Proceed to local communities such as Rumira, Pachar, Camicancha, or Piri and meet the families you will work with over the next two days. With the help of family members, clean the property of any invasive material that can be considered garbage. Then, guests will return to the house and with the help of the bilingual guide discuss with the families how to separate garbage into plastics, metals, and biodegradable garbage and then store them in the 3 buckets previously bought. After lunch, plan with family members where and how they will build a composting bin. The family has committed to providing the supplies and tools.
This afternoon, you will travel with one of the family members to Ollantaytambo where they will take the recyclables that will be sold in the local recycling company. The family can then understand the process and relative ease of recycling and feel empowered to recycle in the future. All proceeds from selling the recyclables will be given to the family member. Travelers will return to their hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Return to the local community this morning in order to start building the compost bin with the help of the family. Work hand-in-hand with family members in order to build the structure where they will store the biodegradable garbage that in the future will turn to a very effective and natural fertilizer for their crops and gardens. With the guide, discuss with the family the process of composting. This is certainly a cross-cultural experience where you will also be able to ask questions about their gardens, food preparation, and daily activities. In the afternoon, bid your Peruvian family good-bye and return to Ollantaytambo or Cusco.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.