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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.



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.





Administrative Director

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. 


Bonnie Westwater

Outreach Education Coordinator

Bonnie joined the Azulita Project in 2021 as Outreach Education Coordinator at the Flagstaff Community Market. She has been an educator for more than 30 years and is committed to teaching others how to reduce their reliance on plastic. Bonnie has a BA in International Studies and a Secondary Teaching Certificate in Spanish and French. Her two sons and two granddaughters are her biggest motivation for protecting our environment for the future. 




Board Member

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. 

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Board Member

Art is a small business owner who has operated the Flagstaff Community Markets, a farm to market business, for 21 years.  He served in public office for 15 years and is experienced in public and regulatory policy at the local, state and federal level.  Art is currently working to bring an industrial composting facility to northern Arizona. 

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Board Member

Alison Holloran is the executive director of Audubon Rockies and a vice president of the National Audubon Society. Before Audubon Alison was a research scientist for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming, where she received her master's degree in zoology and physiology from the University of Wyoming and her B.S. in wildlife management from the University of West Virginia.



Board President

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. 



Board Treasurer

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.

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Board Secretary

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.


Board Member

Jess has been dedicated to reducing waste her entire life. Faced with the environmental disaster of plastic pollution, Jess knows that it’s more important than ever to combat waste, especially single use plastics, and to also help educate her community on the importance of waste and plastic reduction. She holds two degrees (BA Anthropology, minor in Photography and an AANS in Nursing) and is currently working as a Registered Nurse in Flagstaff.


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Office hours are Wednesdays and Fridays.

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