Another use for plastic bags

Widecast has worked with a group of women in Costa Rica and Panama to create a variety of handbags made entirely of recycled plastic bags. These women and their communities collect plastic bags off of beaches and any other place where they may be found. The plastic bags are cleaned and then made into a yarn to be crocheted into bags. Each bag is made by one woman in the community. Her name is attached to the bag as well as a brief description of the process to make the bags.

In 2007 (as an example year) alone:

This project collected and reused more than 50,000 plastic bags and worked with more than 220 pounds of collected bags each month. The project placed collection containers in 12 supermarkets in the Automercado chain in Costa Rica and organized groups of weavers in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, representing more than 100 women. The project made approximately $20,000 in sales, 80% of which went to the women weavers.


These bags are being created as a tool to raise awareness of the problem with plastic bags for sea turtles specifically and our planet overall. Each bag is a unique work of art. No two are the same. The striped bag on the wall behind Catta is an example of these bags. We have a small selection of them for sale at Tranquilo Bay.

More Sportfishing in Panama

We learned about Ocearch earlier this month when a group for The Billfish Foundation working on the Panamanian Sportfishing Study came to fish with us at Tranquilo Bay. Ocearch founder, Chris Fischer visited Panama a year ago to discuss sustainability issues with different Panamanian government officials. Check it out:

Ocearch is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on the ocean’s giants. You can check out more of their work on the National Geographic Channel’s Shark Men or on their website

SHOUT Online Learning Portal


Earlier this week I found a new project that the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is doing in combination with some other organizations. The program called SHOUT is for students and educators to meet together in an online community to learn more about a variety of global environmental issues. There are live sessions, podcasts, and recorded versions of the live sessions to review. I listened to a podcast by the director of STRI to learn a bit more about what STRI does and will be doing. You might want to go check it all out. Here is the link: The Deforest Action program appears to be a great project for kids. I assure you that ours will be getting into it.

STRI 2010

We are lucky here in Panama for a variety of different reasons. One reason is that Panama is an amazing laboratory to learn a variety of different things about nature. There are many different groups that study wildlife in Panama and Bocas del Toro in particular. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) makes it much easier for each of the scientists to conduct research in the tropics.

From STRI’s website: The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) in Panama, is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution based outside of the United States, is dedicated to understanding biological diversity. What began in 1923 as small field station on Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal Zone, has developed into one of the leading research institutions of the world. STRI’s facilities provide a unique opportunity for long-term ecological studies in the tropics, and are used extensively by some 900 visiting scientists from academic and research institutions in the United States and around the world every year. The work of our resident scientists has allowed us to better understand tropical habitats and has trained hundreds of tropical biologists.

STRI’s Bocas del Toro Research Station is home to a number of scientists on a regular basis. They are based in this facility whenever they are doing research throughout the archipelago. We have been fortunate to have had two different red frog studies use the grounds at Tranquilo Bay for part of their research. One such study has just published a paper as designated in STRI’s news for October. If you are interested in reading the newsletter there is a link to it below.

You can also follow both STRI and the Bocas Research Station on Facebook.

STRI News Oct.1, 2010