WHERE WE WORK
The Azulita Project pursues action-based solutions to the plastic problem in both inland and coastal communities. We primarily work in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA and the Los Llanos area of Guerrero, Mexico.
In Flagstaff, the Azulita project focuses on reducing City-wide plastic use through educational outreach and programs like Zero Waste Events.
In Los Llanos, Azulita captures ocean-bound plastic and prepares it for reuse or recycling.
WHERE WE WORK
Moved by the rampant plastic pollution and overuse of chemical pesticides in the Los Llanos region of Guerrero, Mexico, Azulita's founders—Mike, Lainie, Erwing, and Pato—joined forces in 2008.
In its initial form, the Azulita Project was a volunteer “communitarian” effort which included organic farming education programs, a recycling project, a youth soccer league, dance instruction, English classes and a community space for teaching and gathering.
In 2014, the founders reorganized the recycling portion of the project in pursuit of an effective and sustainable business model. The concept was simple: create an economic incentive for people to recycle plastic and create well-paying jobs in rural Mexico. Our team in Los Llanos captures ocean-bound plastic, then cleans and sorts it at our collection facility for use in recycled products.
In 2016, the Azuita Project 501c3 was formed to support Mexico operations and start a local inland campaign to bring awareness to marine plastic pollution and influence plastic reduction in Mike and Lainie's hometown of Flagstaff, AZ.
MEET THE STAFF
Mary joined the Azulita team as a founding board member in 2015. As Administrative Director, Mary leads Azulita operations and assists with organizational capacity building. She attended the University of Arizona, Tucson, before completing her MA in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. Mary is passionate about building solutions-oriented programming that empower people to make change.
Before joining Azulita as Flagstaff Programs Manager in 2019, Emily did community-oriented work in Flagstaff with gardening, transportation planning, the arts, tourism, and local advocacy and policy. She received her MA in Sustainable Communities and MS in Applied Geospatial Sciences from Northern Arizona University. Emily sees single-use plastics as the embodiment of a wasteful lifestyle and plastics reduction programming can encourage other sustainable practices.
MEET THE BOARD
Maria is a marine biologist and is more used to being in the water than on land. She is a fisheries researcher, a science communicator and freelance science writer. She helped create ‘The Last Straw,’ a film about plastic pollution made by Flagstaff youth which won the national Youth Making Ripples contest, and traveled the world with Save The Waves Film Festival in 2018.
John Borham joined the Azulita board in 2018. John is a teacher in Flagstaff committed to fostering appreciation for, and an understanding of, the natural world. On the Azulita board, John designed curricula and taught an environmental education unit with an emphasis on empowering individuals to make more sustainable life choices.
Martine is dedicated to reducing single use plastics for future generations. She has two wonderful children Alida and Ramsey. She has been a professional caregiver of children, adults with disabilities and elders for more than 16 years. Martine also sits on the Pine Forest Charter School board where she helps to ensure the financial integrity and viability of the school.
Azulita Project co-founder Lainie Johnstone has a BS in Biology and an MS in Zoology and Physiology. Recently her work has focused on collaborating with and managing environmental and educational NGOs. She is passionate about addressing environmental and educational issues through solutions-based, economically sustainable community programming.
John Tveten is an ER Physician based in Flagstaff Arizona. His work led him to a conviction that we are only as healthy as the world we live in. For the past twenty years John has served on boards of multiple conservation NGOs. As an avid surfer, he was drawn to Azulita’s commitment to protecting our oceans.