On holidays like Christmas we see ourselves repeat familiar rituals, get together with family and friends, and simply celebrate. It provides a sense of warmth, safety even, and allows us to experience joy with loved ones. Repetitive social activities take inspiration from natural life cycles. Every winter we gather around the living room and look forward to a new year.
We have learned to follow social "scripts" to live in harmony among each other the same way nature follows a delicate equilibrium. We now are learning how to integrate sustainable principles in our consumer-driven infrastructure to maintain a balance that we have put in jeopardy after five industrial revolutions. History meets nature.
The notion of balance is particularly anchored in a park in Mexico, located south of Cancun where I am spending my Christmas vacation. In 1984, a group of Mexican entrepreneurs purchased 12 acres near the archeological site of Xcaret, led by architect Miguel Quintana Pali. When he started to clean the land he discovered natural sinkholes and beautiful underground rivers. He decided to create a park where everybody could access the natural wonders of the region. Xcaret Park was born 20 years ago, in December 1990.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History assisted in rebuilding the remnants of the Mayan pyramids in the area. Inspired to work towards a social, cultural and environmental balance, Miguel Quintana Pali explains that “Xcaret is a corner in Mexico that touches the soul of thousands of people. This inspires us to work day by day with passion, pride and responsibility. The strategic priorities of the park will continue to be based upon issues related to our country’s natural resources, people and culture."
Due to its great success Xcaret has been preserved with a smart environmental management system. Today the use of sun tan lotions is controlled by offering visitors over 250 samples of eco-friendly sun block lotion every day. More than 100 gallons of water are daily reused for irrigation throughout the park. Each month Xcaret produces 160 tons of compost which is used to fertilize green areas and the plant nursery.
One area caught my attention: Xcaret displayed fish farms as a way to reduce the load on wild fish reservations and protect the environment. Sustainable seafood is however a complex and controversial global issue. Many fish farms increase the demand on seafood like anchovies, which can create local unbalances in the maritime food chain of countries like Peru. Target actually decided earlier this year to remove farm-raised salmon from its stores in collaboration with the Marine Stewardship Council.
Standards are needed to qualify sustainable fishing and farming techniques. Without practical and sustainable solutions, it is difficult to envision how fisheries will be able to meet the increasing demand from distribution chains. The trend was started by Wal-Mart, which continues to act on its plan to only sell safely harvested seafood by 2012. Some marine experts argue though that the battle is already lost because the rise of water temperature will complete the depletion of oceanic fish resources.
Xcaret also celebrates the Mayan heritage of this beautiful part of Mexico. One of the main cultural events is The Death and Life Traditions Festival. In many ways, it is the fear of the end that brings our attention to tackle collective problems. The realization of Earth’s natural and delicate beauty encourages us to act and find creative solutions in time to curb our impact on the environment. Let’s join Xcaret in celebrating the 2012 Mayan prophecy as a new beginning rather than a doomsday.