10 de Ago de 2022

Nacional

The greening of Parque Omar

PANAMA. A little more than a year ago, a group of environmentally-conscious locals embarked on a project to transform Parque Omar, one ...

PANAMA. A little more than a year ago, a group of environmentally-conscious locals embarked on a project to transform Parque Omar, one of the few green spaces in the city, into a recycling niche. Today, the results have surpassed their expectations.

On August 2007, The National Parks of Panama Group and the Social Action Foundation (FAS), supported by the Park’s administration and several government entities, received sponsorship from the Cerveceria Nacional to turn this green space greener.

The idea was to raise awareness among park users of proper waste management skills, encouraging them to recycle bottles and cans used during their activities.

The organizers would collect the material, and the money raised through recyclables would be used to keep funding the project.

According to Mariela Fruto, from FAS Panama, after getting the funding, organizers frequented the park to spread their initiative. They met with the park’s administration, Institutional Protection Service (SPI) agents, SINAPROC, DIMAUD (garbage collecting) staff, park food sellers? anyone who would listen. “We asked for their support, starting with joining us in meetings,” she said.

More than 16 workshops were held to discuss the plan and individual responsibilities with members of DIMAUD, the Municipality’s department of beautification and the environment, and the National Environment Authority (ANAM), among others.

They also approached park users. “A group of volunteers embarked on an awareness campaign. We held a survey, asking park visitors if they agreed with the initiative. 60 to 80 percent said they agreed,” explained Fruto.

Step two was to place signs reading “Recicla + Disfruta +” (recycle more, enjoy more) along the park, to “send a message to park users” and remind them that they are also responsible of taking care of the park.

Inside the park, recycling bins have been placed in seven different spots, including the skating ring and the tennis court, for plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and newspapers.

“We surveyed the trash generated in the park and these were the top three,” said Fruto. Unfortunately, some decide to throw in plastic cups, straws, and other materials that are not recyclable.

Fruto explained that thanks to the support, the initiative was well publicized, and now some use the park as a collection center, attested by the fact that newspaper collection between January 2008 to March 2009 was greater than plastic bottles and cans, which are most used inside the park.

Similarly, whereas organizers collected the recyclables twice a week before, taking them to the FAS Panama premises to sort out, now park staff collect the material every day, taking them to a collection center within the park. “The park staff and the DIMAUD ladies have been of great help,” Fruto said.

FAS Panama hopes to open up the collection center to the public in the future. Fruto believes such an initiative would help those who bring in larger volumes of recyclables, and would encourage more school trips, where students can learn about the importance of recycling.

Currently, organizers use the money obtained from the recyclables (Over $500 from January 2008 to March 2009) to keep the program running. Yet they hope to reach a point where spare money can be used to reinvest in the park.

“Ideally, we can invest in benches, lights? let park users see the results of their efforts,” said Fruto.

In the future, FAS Panama foresees the park’s administration taking over the project’s management.

Their ultimate goal is also to systematize the initiative, laying the groundwork for others who might be interesting in implementing such efforts elsewhere.

And they have already started seeing the fruits of their labors. They have already received calls from businesses interested in encouraging recycling within their premises.