While tourists complain about the smell of rotten seaweed on Mexican beaches, one man sees it as a gift and utilizes it for sustainable construction, becoming an inspiration to many.
What is now being called a sustainable solution to a current environmental problem started as an idea in 2015 by Mexican gardener Omar de Jesus Vazquez Sanchez to utilize the tonnes of washed-up seaweed from Mexican beaches, something no one else had thought of.
Bricks from beached seaweed – an incredible solution
While the Mexican government follows orders to collect and remove over 40,000 tonnes of stinky seaweed from various beaches around the tourist area of Cancun, Omar is saving it from the landfills and, instead, processing it to create sustainable building materials.
Omar is creating adobe-like bricks using a kiln, which the UN Development Program has dubbed “a stroke of brilliance”.
Omar, who immigrated to the US as a poverty-stricken child, decided to move back to his beloved Mexico home to follow his Mexican dream, which came about after having experienced substance abuse while living in the States.
Lured by dreams of being a gardener, paired with the familiarity of his native land, Omar quickly found an alternative view of the smelly seaweed, which reminded him of his days being unwanted and useless during his time in the States.
With this in mind, his creative mind devised a plan to turn an environmental problem into a sustainable building solution.
A feat in sustainable construction – the process behind Omars seaweed bricks
Many people couldn’t be happier to see the seaweed, which has been said to smell like rotten eggs, being cleared and taken away.
Meanwhile, Omar is collecting the substance, and with it, he is creating building blocks which are being used all over the state of Jalisco.
The blocks fired up in a kiln are made up of 40% sargassum, and the whole project has provided work for over 300 families, making this fantastic for the economy and the environment.
His company Sargablock is paving the way for sustainable construction, and they have been approved for use by the ecology and environmental offices in the state of Quintana Roo.
An inspiration for future generations – the man making bricks from beached seaweed
The UN Development Program has deemed Omar an inspiration, saying his actions will inspire others to think outside the box and do their bit for the environment.
Omar’s incredible work will be featured in the program’s Accelerator Lab global broadcast, which will be shared with the world to create a sustainable movement.
“When you have problems with drugs or alcohol, you’re viewed as a societal problem. No one wants anything to do with you. They look away,” Omar stated in an interview.
He added, “When sargassum started arriving, it created a similar reaction. Everyone was complaining; I wanted to mould something good out of something everyone saw as bad”.