A city with around 7.5 million inhabitants like Bogota, Colombia produces approximately 180,000 tons of garbage every month. Without a doubt, the management of waste generated by commercial activities in this city presents a real challenge for its inhabitants. Luckily, Monica Lozano (´99, Colombia) had the opportunity to study at EARTH, where she learned that waste can be reused and converted into useful material. Monica acts as an ambassador of sustainability in her community. She has her own business and coordinates a project with two other private companies, impacting the waste management on a large scale in her community.
When asked, “What does EARTH mean to you?” Monica replied with “Everything, sustainability in all its splendor.” This concept of sustainability has helped her to develop a business that apart from generating income for herself and two other companies, also helps to solve one of the most important environmental problems plaguing her city from a sustainable and profitable perspective: “If I put in something, I have to get something back as well,” Monica says.
Since her graduation from EARTH, Monica has demonstrated a profound interest in resource management and environmental protection. Her interest was piqued after her internship at Agronilo Grajales during her third year at EARTH, the same company where she later worked reducing pollution levels in the Cauca River.
Her excellent work caught the attention of Carlos Gustavo Cano, the Colombian Minister of Agriculture at the time, who invited her to join his team as Coordinator of the Clean Agriculture Program. She played an integral part in establishing environmental rules and regulations that affect the entire country, including her role in creating Colombia’s first organic food certification.
Even though her experience in government allowed her to promote better practices in agriculture, she felt the need to do more. “The government has to make the laws, but it is not them that the law applies to,” she explains, “And I wanted to work in implementing these laws correctly.” She decided to leave the ministry and start anew as an independent consultant, giving advice to small-scale producers interested in adopting clean agriculture practices that comply with the new environmental laws.
Her experiences in the public and private sector allowed her to visualize a viable business opportunity, and her company Sea Soil was born. The venture is dedicated to importing and distributing clean agricultural technology from North America, such as soil conditioners and organic fertilizers. At the same time, she realized the importance of teaching producers how to properly manage waste and the economic and quality benefits that can be gained from the application of such products. “We don’t want to be just a supply company. Instead, we want our technologies to be a tool that the people don’t have to depend on, rather that they understand how and when to use them,” she explains.
Today, Monica leads a project involving three independent companies, including her own, that work to improve waste management practices throughout Bogota. The project includes environmental education and basic waste management, collecting organic waste and composting it into a product that can be put back into local crops. The project impacts hundreds of lives, from family homes to big industries like hotels, resorts, and restaurants throughout the city.
She is personally in charge of teaching employees and farmers about managing and separating organic and inorganic materials, and the numerous benefits of proper waste management and the use of prebiotics.
Apart from organic waste management, Monica also works in urban water conservation, providing training and spreading awareness about the impact of everyday activities on water resources and the steps to take to reduce this impact.
Through many initiatives, Monica has succeeded in demonstrating that sustainability can be profitable. This message has spread to hundreds of people in Bogota, contributing not only to the proper management of trash, but also spreading awareness of the importance of protecting natural resources while generating a profit for her and the collaborating companies.
We want to continue sending ambassadors of sustainability around the world. Make a gift to EARTH today to ensure that more students like Monica can continue receiving an education that prepares them to contribute to the well-being of their communities.
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