Today, in our very first interview for #EntrevistasConAlma we will discuss the matter of the environment, focusing on recycling. We are visited by Víctor Horcasitas, a very versatile man who directs the magazine Barcelona Metropolitan, which has a large audience of English-speaking residents in Barcelona. The magazine's articles, which are very interesting and diverse in subject matter, are a great help and a true guide to living well in Barcelona for the international community that resides in the capital of Catalonia.
In this interview, we will focus on his vision of the importance of environmental care and recycling to ensure the sustainability of our cities and thus preserve our planet in good condition for future generations. His great experience as a business consultant and his point of view as a director of a prestigious media will give us some light to reach practical and simple solutions while allowing us to live in a civilized and ecological way at the same time. Something that everyone will appreciate. And in order to achieve this, there is nothing better than recycling.
We move on without further ado to interview our guest, Victor Horcasitas, who is welcomed by the entire Nozama.Green team and we thank him greatly for giving us his time and words in service of the ecological and environmental cause.
-Has the magazine you run, Barcelona Metropolitan, ever addressed the issue of ecology and the environment?
Yes, on several occasions we have done articles about, for example, cleaning up plastic beaches. We have also talked about the recycling system and sustainable development, as well as the circular economy. We have published articles as well on carbon dioxide emissions and their myths. We have also written some articles about municipal waste management.
On the other hand, I have personally studied several leading technology companies whose aim is to convert waste into energy. We have dealt with this issue on a few occasions at Barcelona Metropolitan, but I think we have to do even more.
- Is it an issue that your audience considers of special interest?
These are usually articles that are widely read by our audience. We can measure social media interactions through comments and shares, as the audience shares the articles frequently with their friends on Facebook or Linkedin. Clearly, there is a great interest in the ecological issue among our readers. Our readers not only interact with articles regarding the sustainability part, as it also reaches their most humane part. There is a rapprochement of people who are dedicated to helping improve the environment; and by doing an article about it, people get to know the situation better and become more aware. In addition, the people who collaborate in this do so voluntarily, selflessly; and they really make a big impact.
-Do you think that society is really involved in preserving our planet and that we recycle enough nowadays or is there still a long way to go in that regard?
No, we're in a fairly embryonic phase. People are not taking it very seriously as, you can see it clearly in the price of petrol and fuel. All of this should mean more spending. On the one hand, people do not understand how cheaply they are getting a lot of things, although they are still finding it expensive, it could even be much more expensive. And, on the other hand, there are really many people who are not recycling well, they don't know how to recycle properly. I know that recycling plastic and glass waste is more complicated than people think, even though efforts have been made to educate society about recycling. And you can still see in the results that the amount of plastic in urban waste dumps is growing.
On the other hand, when it comes to disrupting public transport and limiting access to the city by private car, people get very angry, and I understand that, but really, if people had a stronger involvement in preserving our environment, we would not have such an aggressive reaction against the efforts that have to be made in this respect, because they are not politically convenient, as well as being expensive. Although with a volunteer willing to help on the issue of the environment it would not be so complicated to carry out this mission.
-Do you remember the last thing you recycled and how you did it?
Last night, when I left my office, I separated the different types of trash we have and put them in the proper containers (glass and paper).
-As an expert in advising companies in the city of Barcelona, what advice would you give Nozama in its early days so that it can successfully carry out its ecological mission by reaching as many people as possible?
One of the most common mistakes I have seen with some entrepreneurs is not being able to really quantify the problem and the solution being offered. So, when you talk about numbers so that people can personalize it, it's important to understand the social impact that your activity has; and also to be able to quantify the return on investment of people who are developing a technology, and how you can target the beneficial impact to investors.
-What role does recycling and saving natural resources play when you want to create a sustainable city?
I would like to think that it is a super important criterion for creating a sustainable city, although, unfortunately, I think that it is a consideration that is made after the urban plans, it is not being taken into account very much. However, these waste parks (landfills) should be taken into account much more, because it is still the most popular solution, unfortunately, for many cities today.
-Do you know of more companies that you collaborate with or have collaborated with professionally that, like Nozama, have a clear ecological conscience and try to reduce the environmental impact as much as possible by manufacturing non-polluting and environmentally friendly products?
I have worked with several companies that are environmentally aware and a department that is dedicated to helping move forward to try to improve the environment through saving electricity, energy, also in recycling. For example, at Metropolitan, one of the decisions we made was to eliminate the paper boxes we were using to do the editorial part and print the magazine. Now, all articles are published digitally, no paper is used. At the moment we are not printing the new paper editions, and we are saving, I would say, between 500 and 1,000 sheets of paper every week.
- And if Victor Horcasitas were to write an article, what headline would he put up to get his magazine's audience's attention on the importance of improving the environment?
"Sixteen-year-old girl teaches the world about the importance of recycling to combat climate change."
-How do you think you can generate employment focused on caring for and improving the environment?
The magic bullet, let's say, is always in education. That's why I was talking earlier about this 16-year-old girl, Greta Thunberg, and the message she sends to society about environmental care. But people are not well informed or educated about the cost of what is being produced, nor are we educating children to prepare them in the formation of new technologies and how to apply them to the environment. I think that by educating them in this, jobs could also be created on such a fundamental issue for the whole planet. Although, at the moment, very little is really being invested in each country.
-Nozama wants to make a training tour that will include courses so that children can learn about everything related to recycling and the importance it has in our natural and urban environment. What do you think of the idea?
I think it's fantastic. One thing I also love is when I sometimes ask my daughters about how to recycle, and it turns out that they know how to answer in a better way than when I ask the adults: Why do we separate the caps on the plastic things from the rest? They can't tell you why, where they go or how they are used. On the other hand, there are many children who can explain it to you. I believe that this basis is fundamental; educating at an early age can help to create a better future in this sense.
-Is society at a global level prepared to change these inappropriate consumption habits for others that are healthier and more respectful of the natural environment in which 21st century human beings live?
No, it is not prepared at all for change. Unfortunately, the industrialized countries that have the majority of resources are basically exploiting other developing and emerging countries; and they are explaining things to them that make it more difficult to implement solutions. But it is inevitable, even if they are not prepared, they do not care. We have to improve our response to make better use of the environment.
-If you could invite a celebrity or an influential person from anywhere in the world to drink a 100% recycled and natural Nozama coffee to talk about the utmost importance of betting on recycling and caring for the environment, who would you do it with?
Well, at the moment, although politically I totally disagree with him; because of his passion and dedication, Bernie Sanders. It would be incredible for me to meet him on a personal level, because he is really super-dedicated to the subject, and I think he is a person of integrity, even though I do not agree with him in any area of politics. But I think he would be someone who would be really willing to invest and take it very seriously.
-Do you think that new technologies and artificial intelligence could also help in some way, in the future, to collect and eliminate a large part of the plastic and polluting waste dumped in the oceans, rivers and forests by robots or drones specialised in cleaning and environmental care?
I am sure. Being able to solve different types of situations like this using artificial intelligence will rescue us from many problems that we humans are causing; they still generate other problems, but for the moment, we have shown that we are not very effective in our own solutions, so maybe understanding usage patterns and thousands of other data could help us design more practical solutions.
-What would you do or recommend doing to ensure that in the future we can enjoy sustainable and ecological cities without depleting natural resources and where all inhabitants can have a good standard of living?
Well, I remember, when I was very young, that my family moved from Mexico to Stanford, and there was a tall pole in an area where no cars could pass (this would be in the 70s). It seemed like paradise to me to be in an area totally free of excess noise and pollution, with people walking and biking, while cars were out of the area. I think that creating a city with this philosophy would be super useful, and if it can be shown that it would not only be cleaner but also develop a more productive and technologically advanced environment, it would be super interesting.
-Can you say a sentence with a soul to motivate people to act and be part of this process so that we can recycle everything that is consumed?
Have you shown your children and grandchildren how to conserve the environment? Do it yourself personally, don't just wait for other organizations to do it for you, and what have you done to set an example for your family on how to improve it and provide a solution?
Buy sustainable in Nozama!
Thank you very much to our special guest for this first interview for #Interviews with Soul, Victor Horcasitas, a man with many resources and ideas to contribute to make us all a more sustainable world with ecological values through the care of the environment and the recycling of all the products we consume. Nozama helps you make it possible, and environmentally conscious people like Victor are a breath of fresh, clean air to deal with the harmful effects of pollution and waste on our planet.
Interview by Tomás Casas, 20 October 2019.