We were in Mexico last week, in Sayulita, a town about 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta visiting friends with a home there. One of our side trips included the small town of San Pancho, the next town over. Another beach town, it is filled with shops and restaurants, it also has a really interesting and successful 16,000 sq ft community center built around recycling, reuse and creativity — EntreAmigos.
It has everything a community center has — computers, community rooms, classrooms, exercise classes, a book lending library, classes & workshops, an art gallery and activities for kids. There’s even a community garden. But what makes this different is that it is in a former milk processing factory vacant since the 1970s, it’s modus operandi is creativity and recycling/reuse.
And it’s also part of their DNA — light fixtures, furniture, shelving, artwork, gates, floors, even the walls themselves — all incorporate plastic & glass bottles, cans, construction equipment, wooden boxes pallets, food containers, car parts and more.
Workshops include glass, textile and screen printing and an intriguing “Eco-Design Center” series of workshops that looks for innovative new uses for recycled products. The products are then sold in their on-site stores, the Imaginarte Gallery & Store with all local art, organic food products and handmade gift items; and a thrift shop store, the Recicla Shop where you can find great deals on new and used clothes, housewares, one-of-a-kind items and fun jewelry. And all sales from the shops benefit the Community center itself.
They even accept their own currency – Panchos, which get earned from hours spent volunteering, participating in some classes, in trade for air miles, donations and many other ways. This keeps classes and products affordable for locals and they’re even starting to use them as currency in the wider community. Genius.
|A beautiful gate made of various found metal scraps, including hub caps,
makes an impressive entry to the recycling portion of the building.
|Like the photo at top, these lamps are made from beer and soda cans.|
|When you first walk in, you’re greeted by this tree made from construction & car parts.|
|Tree trunk close-up.|
|Even before you enter the Community Center, the sidewalk
out front is embedded with glass recycled bits in concrete.
|A broom made of re-purposed plastic soda bottles.|
|Even the shelving in the gift shop are made of re-used bottles.|
|A woman’s belt made of glass from the necks of bottles.|
|Bistro table from speed sign.|
|Short wall embedded with bottles.|
|Bench made from wooden pallet and a table made from milk crates.|
|Window to the recycling warehouse.|
|Low wall made from, of all things, speed bumps.|
|Men’s room wall made of crushed plastic bottles.|
|Spiderweb room divider.|
|Egg carton light fixtures.|
|Construction leftovers make good book display shelves in the kid’s area.|
|A work in progress, a glass bottle mosaic.|
|Truck bumper bench/tree surround.|