This article was originally published on the Idealistas Blog on November 12, 2021.
Did you know that the highest percentage of refuse in garbage dumps comes from organic waste? Organic waste—biodegradable material from either a plant or animal— negatively affects the environment, polluting the atmosphere, soil, and water.
We recently had an opportunity to meet with Nicolás Pérez and Alejandro Pérez, co-founders of ANUNA, an Ecuador-based environmental initiative, to discuss bringing awareness to the issue and how to reuse organic waste sustainably.
As they mentioned: "One of the most serious problems that most Latin American cities face is organic waste, contributing to 65% of the waste produced in cities. When organic waste ends up in sanitary landfills, it produces enormous amounts of methane gas and leachate, two highly polluting components. 10% of CO2 emissions in the world come from methane gas from landfills. It is a huge problem, and urgent action is needed.”
Below is our interview with Nicolás and Alejandro.
Idealist: What solution does ANUNA offer?
Nicolás and Alejandro: “ANUNA provides free organic waste collection from households and composts the waste to be reused as fertilizer. This helps resolve logistical issues on how to dispose of organic waste in each home. Participants of the initiative have come to understand the importance of waste classification. They have learned that they can separate organic waste in a better way, preventing it from ending up in a landfill.”
This short video highlights the services offered by ANUNA:
“The impact has been tremendous. ANUNA started in November 2020 with 15 households. Since then, we have served 1200 households, directly impacting more than 5,000 people. ANUNA recovers about 30 tons of organic waste per month. Based on the EPA calculators, we can calculate the amount of methane gas that we are preventing from reaching the atmosphere through our initiative. The impact is the equivalent figure to the emission of around 3,000 gallons of gasoline consumed or more than 3 million charges for smartphones per month.”
Idealist: What has been the response to your services?
Nicolás and Alejandro: "The response of the people has been very motivating. We have managed to generate environmental awareness and receive a lot of support, especially because they know our effort to offer this service free of charge.
There is still a lot to do despite our initial success, so we want to grow to make a greater impact. We want to raise awareness about other problems such as garden waste that also contributes to the huge amount of waste in households and public spaces. Our goal is to become the largest organic waste managers in Ecuador and thus in some way transform this situation.”
Idealist: What advice do you have for moving from intention to action?
Nicolás and Alejandro: “The best advice we can give to all those who have an idea and do not know how to start is that beyond the conceptualization of their idea, the most important thing is just to take the first step. Sometimes we get caught up in the ideation of a project, but the most important thing is to start with that first step. ANUNA is a living example of that. It was a project, an idea that sounded crazy to many people, but we already have tangible results in a short time. We invite everyone to put their ideas on the table and roll up their sleeves to start with whatever they want to do.”
Check out inspiring stories of people who’ve moved from intention to action, like Reza, who created the Power of Play to help empower children globally and others in our Ideas for Action blog.
Coordinadora de Idealist para Iberoamérica. Me encargo de dar soporte a nuestros usuarios y organizaciones en la región, además de alimentar con contenidos útiles al sitio de Idealist en español y contribuir para potenciar el impacto positivo de organizaciones e iniciativas solidarias.