The History of Developing a local Recycling Center started in January 2005. The Black Sheep Inn invited the Mayor of Sigchos and the local town council to a meeting. One of the agenda items was to determine if the Mayor would be willing to send the country garbage to Chugchilan twice a month. The Mayor frankly said “No!”.

But he also set in motion the idea of purchasing land so that the town could manage and reuse their waste. Thus started the property search for a location for a landfill. Purchasing land was a slow process. The community had to shop for several properties, as well as convince people that they were NOT making a traditional garbage dump. But rather the land was creating a space for separating and processing waste.

After selecting the final site, the Mayor did not have enough funding to purchase the land, so both the Black Sheep Inn and the Italian Missionary Mato Grosso group pitched in. 

Up until then the village plaza had been swept on Monday’s after the weekly market and trash was conveniently thrown into a small canyon in front of the school.  Now the garbage is being collected in four recycling stations in the plaza separating organic and inorganic waste.   The classified garbage is brought to the new recycling center property.   

Black Sheep Inn built a small adobe building on the property for storing recyclables: hard and soft plastics, scrap metal and cans, cardboard, glass etc.  50% of the village waste is organic which is being composted and non-recyclables are placed in a small landfill.   The recycling center was partly funded by the Black Sheep Inn winning the ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006.

The recycling center is made out of handmade/sun-dried adobe blocks and the windows, door and roof structure was salvaged from an old market building that had been torn down in Chugchilán’s plaza, in order to make room for a new ‘park’.  Therefore the center itself is built out of natural and recycled materials.  Organic compost has been used to fertilize the new park.

Native-Tree Nursery Using Plastic Garbage

(this project also received funding by winning EcoClub’s International Ecotourism Competition 2008) 

Black Sheep Inn is spearheading the creation of a native tree nursery in the high Andes using discarded plastic bottles and abundant organic fertilizer. 

Deforestation in this part of the Andes started over a thousand years ago with the Incas.  The high sierra landscape is now sparsely forested with non-natives of pine and eucalyptus.  Native trees are extremely beneficial as windbreaks, controlling erosion, improving soils, defining property boarders, attracting native wildlife, providing firewood and ultimately attracting more rain!   

This project is relatively simple using organic fertilizer, discarded plastic drinking bottles and a large public property to grow native tree seedlings and distribute them throughout the community.  Part of the property needs to be fenced, a roof-water collector and water storage tank will be installed on a small building which is up hill from the proposed tree nursery, a composting toilet will be built to further produce fertilizer for the trees: basic supplies will be purchased for growing trees and current village employees will be trained on nursery maintenance. 

Currently, village waste is separated into organic and inorganic (a large quantity of non-recyclable plastic bottles are collected) and transported to a one hectare property for processing outside Chugchilán.  This project will use the abundant organic fertilizer and large amount of plastic drinking bottles to start the native tree nursery.   

Black Sheep Inn planted hundreds of native trees on its property over 10 years ago.  There are now mature trees that are producing seed-stock and branches that can be cut for strikes (many of the native Andean trees can be propagated by putting cuttings carefully into fertile soil).  Species at the Black Sheep Inn include: Capuli (Prunus serotina), Quishuar (Buddleia incana), Yagual (Polylepes Incana), Racemosa (Polylepis Racemosa), as well as Alder (Aliso), Acacia (Mimosoideae) and Broom (Retama). 

This project will be completed with collaborations from local town council, Mayor, tourists, Peace Corp Volunteers and Italian Missionaries.  All of these parties have a history of working together successfully. 

Collaborations and Donations:

Italian Mission has offered to install a water connection on the property and provide sawdust.  Laura Schreeg, an ex-US Peace Corp volunteer, has built four native tree nurseries in the high Andean sierra; she is enthusiastic to advise locals on native tree propagation.  She is in regular contact with the Black Sheep Inn via the internet.  There is a current US Peace Corp agricultural volunteer in Chugchilán who is enthused about this project and will give hands-on technical advice and instruction on how to grow seedlings.  The local Mayor has a tree nursery established on the solid waste disposal site of Sigchos and will be able to share valuable expertise. There are an excess of plastic drink bottles available from the village that can be used for seedling containers.  Black Sheep Inn has mature native-trees that can be used for both seed-stock and strikes.  Black Sheep Inn also has technical experience for installing composting toilet and roof-water collecting system.  Lechero fence posts can be cut from the Black Sheep Inn’s property and planted at the native tree nursery site.   

Economic Investment:

Wire fencing, transportation, shade cloth, nursery enclosures, water tanks, roof gutters, wood, composting toilet barrels, metal meshing, cement, cinder-blocks, and seeds.  The village worker has a budget for working 3 days per week yet currently only works 2 days per week. 

Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman
Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador

Top 50 Eco-Lodges – National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2009
Winner, ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006 & 2008
Skål International Ecotourism Award 2006
Smithsonian Magazine/Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award 2005