Grassroots sustainable solutions to Guam’s solid waste problems

Jasmine Flores-Cantrell of Numa'lo Zero Waste Refillery (PNC photo)

Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, Guam is seeking community support and corporate sponsorships to support their sustainable solutions to the island’s waste issue.

According to MCCA, Guam sends over 300 tons of trash to the Layon landfill every single day.

There is also the constant issue of illegal dumpsites throughout the island. Less than half of island residents have weekly trash pick-up with the Guam Solid Waste Authority.

The MCCA came up with grassroots strategies they believe will fulfill this major community need and build solutions with and for island residents.

One of those solutions is the Numa’lo Zero Waste Refillery created by Jasmine Flores-Cantrell which is anticipated to launch by September of this year.

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“We provide access to bulk shopping which means get a large amount of the product without any sort of packaging. So it’s definitely a new thing, actually a new thing to the world, not just to Guam,” Jasmine said.

She explained the concept further: “There’s a van set up, we’ll be setting up pop-up style and also doing home deliveries. You walk up to the van, hopefully with your own containers. These can be anything from old shampoo bottles, mason jars and others. We have a lot of big bins of bulk products such as shampoo, conditioner, soap as well as cleaners like laundry detergent, glass spray, all-purpose spray, things like that. You will choose a product, we’ll fill up your container, and the advantage of it is because you provide your own container, we’ll only charge you for the product itself.”

The other solutions are:

= Tapping into Traditional Knowledge To Tackle Illegal Dumping campaign where they are collaborating with Micronesian crafts makers from Yigo to make fresh floral mwarmwars, leis, and coconut woven goods; and

= Upcycling Single-Use Plastic through their Precious Plastic Pilot program, and education with their season 2, 4-part documentary series on Youtube titled “From our Nana’s For our Neni’s” which focuses on Micronesia’s waste crisis

MCCA Just Transition Coordinator Moñeka De Oro and MCCA Executive Director Michelle Voacolo believe that all initiatives are the key to reducing the waste crisis on island, especially with community support.

“Just promoting these different steps to creating a regenerative and circular economy are the best ways to move forward towards the climate crisis and the plastic pandemic. We have a lot of indigenous knowledge, we have a lot of will to make a big change to our behaviors when it comes to consumer habits, so there’s so much we could be doing to really make a dent in the waste crisis,” De Oro said.

Voacolo added: “A lot of plastics are made using oil and the oil and gas industries have no intention of slowing down within the next few years. It’s also directly linked to consumerism and destructive capitalism. A lot of the banks are in bed with big oil funding and so to reject plastic in a way is also to starve that kind of capitalism and to feed a regenerative economy and to feed a business like Numa’lo is to help support our local economy here. It also takes away from sales going towards those single-use plastic production makers.”

Numa’lo is holding a fundraiser to get the refinery started with the goal to raise $10,000.

Partnering with another local eco-friendly business, Maisa, with every donation above $15, donators will receive an award.

The funds will go to purchase and outfit a van, build a start-up inventory and pay their two-person team.

For more information, check out the MCCA and Numa’ lo Refillery on their Instagram pages.

To give monetary donations, go to their link tree and indiegogo links which are also on their respective Instagram page.