Mexico, recycle project

Visiting Mexico in 2013 gave us a first-hand perspective on how other places are tackling the huge issues of waste:, using innovative techniques for reusing plastics, aluminium cans and food packaging found at the growing rubbish dumps that are creeping closer to cities.

In Puerto Vallarta on the west coast of Mexico, Gabino Sandoval began designing and making with waste materials four years ago, first with plastic bags, old chip packets and sweet wrappers and then with paper and aluminium cans. It took a while for friends to understand what he was doing but now he has a team of six who work with him, collecting, cleaning and preparing ‘components’ ready for the making process. Sandoval now employs them all so there are the added financial benefits as well.

“I grew up in Veracruz, in paradise”, remarks Sandoval. “My mother recycled everything. But today people don’t think about recycling here. It rains, it’s sunny, they are happy. But I could see the problem growing”.



Bags, bracelets and clothing made from folded plastics and aluminium can ring pulls strung together. Clever detailing creates a series of well resolved pieces. Many are sold along the Malecon in Puerto Vallarto, others are special commissions from a growing group of international followers from as far away as Australia. One of his recent works was a full length evening gown made from thousands of aluminium cans for a friend in the United States. New projects include plastic tubing transformed into colourful baskets, which are at prototype stage, and a range of jewellery made from TV and computer motherboards.



While at a much larger scale, the hilltop site where he and his family live is the next recycling project. A steep and winding staircase made from neatly stacked old truck tyres, delivered by friends a few weeks earlier, has just been completed and his new home should be ready before the rainy season takes hold.

“The most important thing is being good with each other, with nature and the environment”, reflects Sandoval. “I came to Puerto Vallarta with my hands, with my eyes, by myself and with no money. But I said to myself: ‘This is beautiful, this is paradise. I think I can do a little bit for Puerto Vallarta’.”


WebOpt_Sandoval_710_2123Thank you to Gabino Sandoval who generously opened up his home and studio for this interview with Heidi Dokulil in January, 2013.


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