image of large bins with plastic bottles in Guatremala

Recycling in Guatemala

If you had walked through the community of Santa Rosita a little over a year ago, along with abject poverty, you would have seen a community engulfed in a sea of plastic bottles. In one particular enclave of homes, I asked a young girl what they do for fun. She took me to an open area behind her little neighborhood. The contrast between the beautiful landscape and the amount of trash encroaching among the children’s play area was striking. Back then, I was disheartened, but today, I am hopeful because Santa Rosita has become an example of recycling in Guatemala.

Taking inspiration from another ministry in the Dominican Republic, New Vision Guatemala embarked on a drive to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the community. As part of that effort, they instituted a new requirement. Anyone who attends one of the events must pay an “entrance fee” of 10 plastic bottles. To challenge the kids, New Vision also awarded the first choice from toy donations to the kids who bring the most plastic bottles. A little girl shocked the volunteers when she showed up with over 250 plastic bottles. That is 250 fewer bottles to litter the community of Santa Rosita.

At first, the community members were embarrassed at the idea of picking up trash from the ground. That embarrassment, however, is long gone, as hundreds of residents participate, and it no longer feels like a source of shame, but of pride. In less than a year that this program has been in place, they have witnessed a drastic change, and they hardly see plastic bottles anymore in their streets. They feel so happy to be part of a cleaner community, and they love to share their anecdotal stories of plastic bottle collection. Apparently, the kids are constantly trying to outdo each other.

This little exercise has begun to garner some attention outside of Santa Rosita. Representatives from the recycling organization that comes and collects the plastic bottles recently came to visit the ministry and witness first-hand why Santa Rosita was outperforming all the other communities they work with. Usually, the organization takes the initiative to push for recycling drives in these communities, but in the case of Santa Rosita, the ministry contacted them. The amount of plastic bottles recycled by Santa Rosita also surpasses other communities, partly because its collection is consistent.

In the future, the recycling organization plans to provide a talk for the community members to explain the life cycle of plastics and how they can be repurposed. Eventually, they plan to use those plastic bottles to make burnable fuels and they want Santa Rosita to be part of that. But for the moment, the ministry is just happy that Santa Rosita is a much cleaner place than it used to be.

Now to combat the soda addiction that produces so much plastic…….

About the Writer:

Luisa Rodriguez is a military wife and a mom to two girls. She is the creator and writer of, a website that helps women understand their God-given roles and purpose according to the scriptures. She is also the creator and writer of where the reader can learn about the Bible’s battles and warriors.

Luisa authored A Royal Mission, a Christian fairytale that teaches young girls about identity and purpose, Preparing Our Daughters for Puberty, a mother-daughter Bible study, and soon-to-be-released Holy Boundaries, Sexuality Bible Study for Teens and Parents. She is also the creator and designer of numerous notebooks and journals.

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