19/08 – Trip to Monte Christi

On monday early in the morning we started a day trip to the province Monte Cristi, that is in the very northwestern part of the dominican republic, near the border to Haiti. After we arrived at first we got to know projects on cleaning the nature from plastic waste.

Then we visited an organic and fair traide certified banana plantation. While growing on the plant all fruits are packaged in a protective cover that looks like a plastic bag with small holes. The local farmers told us, that this plantation uses bags made of bio-degradable plastic to reduce plastic waste.

Further plastic packaging is used for protecting the fruits on their way to the consumers, e.g. in the european union. The strict rules for selling fruits lead to the use of much packaging all over the production and transportation process. Optical flaws are not accepted, neigther by laws nor by the consumers.

The day ended up with a beach cleaning and swimming activity at the northern coast and the long journey back to Santo Domingo by bus.

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17-18/08 – Trip to Samana

On Saturday we arrived in Samana, after getting out of the bus we waited a short time till everybody was ready. When everybody was ready, we got a tour throw a whale museum by a guide, who was working their voluntarily. He explained a lot about whales, for example their way of hunting or the way of mating. He didn’t stop there, our guide also talked about sea turtles and how they are endangered. In the end he gave us an example, why plastic is so bad for the environment. The example was that sea turtles can get straws stuck in their noses, which causes the sea turtles to suffocate. When the tour was over we went back into the bus and drove off with a lot more knowledge.

When we arrived in Samana in the evening, we had time to check out the beautiful beach. The next day we ate breakfast in the motel and we got ourselves ready for a boat tour. This boat tour took us around the beach and showed us the beautiful nature of the Dominican Republic, we stopped our tour two times, because a guide showed us two different and very beautiful caves and their long history. After this tour we got our stuff together and we drove home to Santo Domingo.

15/08 – Beach cleaning

On our first Thursday in the Dominican Republic, we cleaned a part of the beach behind the “Club de los Profesores de la UASD” and we went to Los Tres Ojos. Our group of 27 people was made up of the teenagers from the “Droste Haus” and the “Cooperativa Herrera” and two members of the “Ministerio de Medio Ambiente”. Together we collected over 50 bags of trash in just two hours on just 35m of beach. To be able to recycle all the trash we gathered, we separated it in three categories by using three different colored trash bags. The green ones were for plastic bottles, the thicker white bags were for glass and the black bags were for everything else. 

After a short set of instructions, we were really motivated to start and return this trash covered beach back to its natural beautiful clean state. So we started by collecting plastic bottles first, because they were lying on top of everything else. Afterwards we collected the glass meanwhile collecting the smaller pieces of broken foam and trash. To protect our hands we used two or three pairs of gloves each. We always kept moving from the big things to the smaller things to get a better overview of how it was going to look.

After bringing all of the trash bags to the street so they could be picked up by the trucks, we had a quick lunch and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea and the now clean beach. 

In the afternoon, we visited Los Tres Ojos National Park, an open air natural cave with three lakes (or three eyes) inside. The tour guide told us that the cave was initially used by the indigenous Taino Indians for religious purposes. 

The first lake we saw is called “Lago de Azufre” or “Sulfur Lake” and there are many Tilapia fish swimming inside. The second Lake is “La Nevera” or “the Refrigerator” and we crossed this lake by using a sort of eco-friendly and sustainable man powered boat that moved by being pulled by the men. Once we crossed this lake we arrived to the next lake that is called “Los Zarmagullones” which is not considered one of the ‘eyes’ since it has an opening to the outside. It was a very beautiful place. The fourth lake we visited was “Lago Las Damas” or “Ladies Lake” which had a lovely aqua blue color. 

Some Tips For Beach cleaning:

  • Separate the kind of waste you collect.
  • Choose your shoes depending on the type of surface you’ll be working on. Don’t wear flip flops. Wear covered shoes, preferably sneakers. 
  • Use sun cream and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
  • Buy enough trash bags.
  • Wear light, airy clothes
  • Have fun with it!

14/08 – Natural Historic Museum

Our day started with the meeting at 8 am at the Cooperativa, from there we took a bus to our first activity on that day: The Natural Historic Museum of Santo Domingo. At the museum we went to the differents floors: the 1st floor showed different animals of the ocean, such like whales. After that was finished , we went to the planetarium of the museum. This was the only one in the Dominican Republic and was supported by Japan. The film that was played during the show was in spanish so sadly we couldn´t understand everything. Then after Anne translated what she remembered, we went to see another film. The other film was about, how the world was created and what livings was there before us. On the last floor were some taxidermied animals, but also a living spider and living snakes. Then our tour was finished and we get into the bus.

Our second activity that day was in the old town of Santo Domingo. We visited the „Zona Colonial“, the „Plaza de la Cultura“ and the House of Diego Colon, the son of Cristobal Colon. In the house of Diego Colon we had a guided tour by a german speaking guide. After we left the house we went to get to the bus but it wasn‘t at the meeting point so we ended up in the Chocolate museum and the museum of urban art. Then our bus arrived and drove us back to the cooperativa.

13/08 – Upcycling

We met at 10:00 am at the COOPERATIVA HERRERA and researched creative ideas to make something new out of unused plastic bottles. After a while, everyone had a plan and our work began. All of us put a lot of effort into the work. Even if we have a lot of chaos with the materials that we needed, we all had much fun and out of bottles, we made decorations, vases, candle holders, lamps and beautiful painted flowers.

At the end of the day, we had lunch, had fun taking photos of all the upcycling we did. Also, when we finished, we talked about the experiences of upcycling and tried to do a little reflection of the day.

12/08 – cocoa plantation, ruins and plastic jogging

The next item on the agenda for us was the visit of the cocoa plantation on the experimental and agricultural area of the university. Here we learned a lot about the cultivation, growth, hybridisation and export of cocoa beans.

After that we visited some old ruins which used to be a palace of a tradesman family who produced and exported sugar. Finally we had some delicious lunch at the university and a reflection round. At the end of the day we did some plastic jogging near the ruins in some streets and returned to the COOPERATIVA.

To sum up, we would say that it was a very strenuous an effortful day on the one hand but on the other hand we had much fun with group, learned a lot and were happy about the opportunity to see many places in Santo Domingo.

final note: we took a lot of pictures on that day! 🙂

12/08 – course about Micro-Plastic

On our second day we went to the university of agricultural science and veterinary medicine (UASD). Primarily we got welcomed by the professors of the university who were very interested in the topic of plastic waste and of course in our project.

We heard a very interesting presentation of the professor of biology Luis Carvajal which was about micro-/ nano plastic and its consequences. The first part of the presentation was about the country of the Dominican Republic in general which was really helpful for the Germans to learn more about the geography of the country. In the second part of his presentation he talked about nano plastics and the reasons why it is that dangerous for the environment and for us. He mentioned some basic facts about the plastic as chemical material. We found out that you usually categorise plastic into three different grades of hardness because of the molecularly structure and the classification of plastic in a chart where each number from one to seven stands for a special gradation of plastic. Moreover he informed us that plastic is a resource that can’t associate with the nature in any way so that it will never dissolve itself, because of this reason it is even possible that we breathe in micro-/ nano plastic.