After having carried out several projects abroad (such as #AportaTuGotaEC or #LaBasuraNoDaLikes), the moment has arrived to carry out our first initiative in Spain. More specifically, between Torremolinos and Málaga, where most of the volunteers for Viaja, Disfruta y Ayuda are from.

Under the name #HazAlgoMálaga , we target giving visibility to environmental causes and social issues that are important to us, giving a voice to the people who are doing something about them, and inviting the public to join the movements they feel are closer to them. Because the ability to do something is in our grasp, as is going from awareness to action.

Furthermore, in line with our philosophy, we want this to be in a way that is the most enjoyable, participative, and varied as possible, and so we organize meetings such as cañas viajeras, talks regarding social projects, environmental cleansing, efforts to raise awareness in the municipality regarding the plastics problem, and a solidary paella in which more than 100 people participated while enjoying the Romería de Torremolinos, the most important festival in our area.

All this took place during an intense weekend, that of the 20th to the 22nd of September, following a week of demonstrations against climate change lead by the movement #FridaysForTheFuture, during which World Cleanup day took place.

Official poster #HazAlgoMálaga

Before continuing, I would like to thank Chapka Assurances for its help in making this initiative a reality, as well as the City Council of Torremolinos, especially the Culture Area, for assisting us with all the logistics.

So here is a summary of what happened during those days:

Friday the 20th/ Traveling Beers:

We begin the weekend in the best way possible. With an informal meeting at a beach bar, thanks to the sponsorship of Chapka, who supports us by holding their event “Traveling Beers”, within the context of #HazAlgoMálaga.

This event consists of a meeting where traveling dynamics are discussed among the participants, something which is already popular in cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. But during this occasion, we talked about social projects related to electricity, water, solidarity travel, and the problem of plastics and rubbish.

Beyond talking about solidarity projects and the importance of always traveling insured, it was the first event where we ended up becoming friends with the participants during the weekend. Some of the participants, as well as the speakers, came from different parts of Spain.

Saturday 21 / Talks Do Something

Saturday morning we were given the opportunity to learn about different social projects. It was a very fun and enjoyable event, hosted by event presenter and entertainer, Rafa Frías.

You can never go wrong with Rafa Frías as a presenter at any event.

We divided the morning into 2 parts. First, we hosted 5 talks on 5 social project, and after the break, we continued with a round table discussing environmental problems and what we can each do as individuals.

Aside from a few minor technical problems at the beginning, it was a top-quality day, both in terms of the level of presentations as well as that of the audiovisuals. Thanks to the videos that our hosts supplied, we were able to “travel” to such different parts of the world as the foot of the Andes in Ecuador, the amazonian rain forest in Brazil, rural areas of Kenia as well as different islands in Indonesia.

The session began with the presentation of our project, #AportaTuGotaEC, hosted by Fran Lobato, who narrated the story and motivation behind the main project to date developed through Viaja, Disfruta y Ayuda, that consists in delivering water purifying filters to Ecuador.

Fran Lobato presented #AportaTuGotaEC.

Eugenio Calderón followed, enlightening us on his project Light Humanity, thanks to which families from all over the world are finding sustainable and lasting lighting alternatives to damaging kerosene lamps. Eugenio began his project in the Amazon in Brazil but is now expanding it to other parts of the world.

Eugenio Calderón presenting Light Humanity

I liked his video presentation so much that I took the liberty of sharing it again:

Joel Bagué, who recently arrived from Vietnam, told us about his 8-month trip through South East Asia, and that he was a solidary backpacker and that he had collaborated with various organizations by helping deliver materials. Some of these organizations have already joined Viaja, Disfruta y Ayuda so that more people can collaborate with them.

Joel Bagué, a solidary backpacker

The touristic/professional touch was given by Laura Garrido, who, worried about the almost unsustainable tourism in her native Mallorca, decided to educate herself in various fields related to the environment to create ético, a consulting firm for tourism and sustainability in order to accompany hotels towards a path of greater sustainability.

Laura Garrido, ethics in the tourism industry

The last talk was that given by Guillermo Martínez, who taught us that we can “manufacture arms from our bedrooms”. Guille is the founder of Ayúdame3D, a project whose goal is to create prosthetics with 3D printers, which are then delivered at no cost to people who are missing a hand, an elbow, or an arm.

Guillermo showed us how he creates arms from his bedroom.

Before the break, the rhythm changed to something more light and funny, thanks to the performance of the theatrical improve group Impro Peché, who highlighted the entertaining part of the morning.

Before the break, there is nothing better than an improvised theatrical performance to leave a smile on your face.

We resumed the day with a topic of which we are all part of the problem, but we can also be part of the solution: Pollution and the production of rubbish and plastic.

As an introduction to the round table, we viewed the premiere of the short documentary #LaBasuraNoDaLikes, a project that was co-directed by Viaja, Disfruta y Ayuda with Alberto Menéndez of MochillerosTV and Sergio Otegui of Nada Incluido:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUbTgIEfOMk

After the premiere, a very interesting conversation took place between Cristina and Virgilio of La Huella de la Alpargata and the writer Daniel Zaragoza and Pablo Adrover, of proyecto Mundo Adro. Together, they debated over the alternatives to single-use plastics and what each of us can do as individuals facing different environmental issues, as well as the possible future scenarios we may be faced with in the short/mid-term.

From left to right: Rafa, Virgilio, Cristina, Daniel and Pablo

At the end of the presentation, all the speakers went on the stage to answer questions from the audience.

We closed the discussions by showing the video of #AportaTuGotaEC, a project that became a reality thanks to the participation and donations of many people who were present at that moment.

These discussions were possible thanks to the support of Chapka Assurances, the collaboration of the City Council of Torremolinos, who allowed us to use the Pablo Ruiz Picasso Cultural Center Facilities, and also thanks to Renfe, who offered free transportation to some of our speakers.

Group photograph of some of the speakers along with the participants of the discussions.

Furthermore, Chapka and Renfe each offered us, respectively, travel insurance and train tickets for 2 people that were raffled off among the registered participants of the presentations.

Saturday 21/ Environmental Cleanup

On Saturday afternoon, we had the opportunity to go from awareness to action. Literally.

For this activity, we worked together with the City Council of Málaga to obtain the certification of “sustainable event”, that we organized to coincide with World Cleanup Day. We chose a particularly troubled area.

It is a private area in which an old warehouse of butane was located but without any fencing so easily accessible to many people, and all the problems that this can imply. Furthermore, it is located just a few meters from the Estuary of the Guadalhorce Nature Area and very close to the beach, therefore any meteorological issue could cause all the garbage to end up in the sea.

According to the City Council, because the area is in a private area, they didn’t have any authorization to place containers or even to be able to clean. Something that the townspeople who reached the location on foot, could not understand.

The entire experience was a surprise, from beginning to end. To begin with, only 17 people had signed up for the activity, but more than 60 people showed up, so we ended up not having enough gloves or even garbage bags. After dividing the participants in groups and areas, we got down to work.

The area was in such bad shape, that we decided to clean the area that had more voluminous waste, which we deposited temporarily in a tank at the City Hall.

Among so much garbage…it was encouraging to see how Fran, an 8-year-old boy who had been playing on the beach with his friends, approached us and asked us permission to join in the activity, stating that in 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

We collected far more than we thought…however, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough since the area was in a terrible state. For this reason, we are going to this article and these photographs to request that the City Council review the situation with the goal of avoiding the accumulation of garbage to such critical point.

We are working so that one day, these types of activities will no longer be necessary….
Even though we even had a great time picking up garbage.

Sunday 22 / Sustainable Romería

The Sunday before The Feria we celebrate the Romería (Pilgrimage) of Torremolinos. This festival is considered of National Touristic Interest and over 200,000 people participate every year. It is, in fact, the second most popular pilgrimage in Andalucía, after El Rocío, where hundred of oxcarts and horses cross the municipality.

The official poster for the 2019 Pilgrimage and Festival of Torremolinos.

A folk festival, faithful to the most ancient traditions, that is always very fun and photo-worthy. Nonetheless, it is also an event that generates an uncontrollable amount of garbage and plastic residue.

For this reason, we made it our objective to raise awareness of the situation, and we did it in the following way:

The Plastic Room

The City Council allowed us to show, in an area of maximum turnout, a visual representation of the impact that plastics are having on our environment, as well as the alternatives that already exist

To do this, we set up interconnected tents, separated into two sections.

In the first, we showed the “current or dirty world” and it was decorated with plastic bottles and other elements that we recovered at different points of the municipality, as well as a table where we showed the products that we all have in our houses (including ourselves, since we use shampoo, dishwasher soap, toothpaste, etc.) accompanied by photographs of those same products invading different environments.

Preparing the “dirty world”

In the second, we gave visibility to products that, being compostable, are more environmentally friendly. However, we tried to emphasize the need to eliminate the use of single-use products, to the more than 100 people who came to learn about our initiative.

On the table, the alternatives for a cleaner world

The balance of this activity was positive,since the request to be able to carry out the activity, was accompanied by the request to establish several “clean points” along the route, with the aim of making it easier for participants to recycle. Something that the City Council did for the first time, and we hope it will be maintained in future editions.

One of the “clean spots” that were installed in the municipality

In addition, it helped us to get a feel for what neighbors thought about this issue. The vast majority told us that they believed the use of such pollutants within the municipality should be banned, so after having listened to them, we applied for permission to appear before the Municipal Council and request legislation on this.

We had the opportunity to participate in the Municipal Council Plenary on January 30, 2020. You can see the details and consequences of our participation in this article.

Sustainable Paella in Solidarity

For the last activity of the weekend, we made a collaborative paella, where we set a goal for ourselves: to have as good a time as possible while being as respectful as possible of the environment.

To do this, we engaged several groups without which it would not have been possible:

  • The Cultural Department of the Torremolinos City Council allowed us to use the Senior House as well as the Associations of the Fairgrounds.
    • Paelleros Without Boarders prepared our vegetarian paella for 100 people with artistic flair and affection. It should be noted that we decided on the vegetarian version, to reduce the environmental impact related to meat consumption

The equitable contribution per dish of paella plus a drink was 5 euros, and although at first, we had doubts about whether we would be able to distribute the 100 portions, we have to say it was a success, because not a gram was left.

Once all the additional costs for transportation, gas, and vegetables that we had to buy at the supermarket along with various cleaning products, we raised €575 that will be used for the next project/event we hold.

We had a completely full house
And we enjoyed it as always, reducing our impact

The municipality’s media published the following video about our initiative:

Monument to Responsibility

With plastic materials recovered during the activities over the weekend, and funds from the paella, we planned to build a Monument to Responsibility, with the aim of drawing attention to our shared responsibility for companies, institutions, and individuals; regarding the uncontrolled generation of plastic waste and the real need to avoid its use.

An idea inspired by Costa Rica’s ESI Whale, in whose construction we participated last January.

However, for this initiative, we do not get the necessary support by the municipality to allow us to carry out the construction.

Conclusions

Despite being our first time organizing an event with several different initiatives, such as this weekend’s, we have to say that we are very satisfied. Because of both, the participation and impact, as well as the very nice group of people with which we shared these days.

Obviously there are several things that we canimprove, which we will take into account for a future #HazAlgo,since we think that this is an event/format that could be replicable and interesting to develop in other cities of Spain.

Because among all of us, we can do something.

Acknowledgments

I would like to end by thanking all the people involved in the event, from my colleagues Fran and Silvia, to the speakers and presenter who made the talks a memorable event, to the companies (especially Chapka Assurances) and institutions that supported us as best they could, and Sergio Otegui, Fran Vargas, Javier Ternero, and Silvia Martínez, who captured images of the event selflessly.

And of course, all the people who participated in each of the activities.

We did all this for you…
And without your smiles, it wouldn’t have made sense.

TO all of you: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

See you in at the next #HazAlgo!