Things That Matter

This Mexican Beer Brand Is Winning Awards For Their Can Design And What It Means For The Environment

Let’s be real, plastic waste is a huge problem. And it’s one that has recently taken over our collective consciousness as we try and cut back on our waste – in particular, single-use plastics. 

One of the most obvious and unnecessary plastics are those pesky rings that hold cans together. Whether you’re drinking Coke or cervezas, these plastic rings are terrible. They often end up littering landscapes all over the place and animals like turtles and birds can get them wrapped around their little necks. 

So, the news from Mexican-beer company, Grupo Modelo, that they’re working to replace this plastic, is huge. 

Credit: @BrandFuel / Twitter

The beer world had one of the earliest plastic problems: six-pack rings. Getting rid of these rings became a big concern when word got out that they could entangle marine life. And yet, here we are, decades later, and – despite some interesting efforts like sticking cans together with glue or rings that are actually edible – the six-pack ring problem still hasn’t been definitively solved.

But thankfully, Corona is working towards a couple of solutions.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

So how does it work? According to Mexico News Daily, the top of each can screws into the bottom of another, creating an interlocking tower up to 10 cans high. The format makes the product even more portable than before, meaning you don’t even really need a plastic bag to carry it. 

Of course, stacking cans end-to-end isn’t always ideal. Ten standard cans stacked on top of each other would be four feet tall. That’s far more conspicuous and unwieldy than holding a couple of six-packs under your arms. But at the same time, since these Fit Pack cans can be twisted apart and put back together at will, they provide an advantage six-packs don’t: You can stick together as many or as few cans as you want at any given time.

The plastic-free packaging concept, dubbed the Fit Pack, made the shortlist of the Innovation category at the Cannes Lions international awards show this year.

In a promotional video for the new cans, Carlos Ranero, Marketing VP for AB 1nBev, says, “In the beverage industry, there have been many solutions for cutting back the use of plastic; however, none has been fully adopted because they require the use of other materials. This solution has a very simple approach that can bring great financial benefits thanks to the complete removal of plastic materials in packaging.”

Fit Packs are currently being tested in Mexico only, but the company is planning for a wider rollout in the future.

Not only is the company testing out stackable beer cans, they’ve also been testing out biodegradable rings in Tulum, Mexico – obviously a major beer mecca.

Last year, the company also tested six-pack rings made from plant-based biodegradable fibers with a mix of byproduct waste and compostable materials. These were designed to break down into organic matter that won’t hurt wildlife. The plastic-free rings were first launched in Tulum, Mexico, with plans to expand at a later time. For the sake of Mother Earth, we’re hoping these products earn a spot on grocery store shelves.

Beer drinking Twitter was totally here for the news.

Credit: @power97wpg

Anything that makes drinking beer easier and better for the environment, yes please!

Others were already thinking of how much fun this could be…

Credit: @larrykim / Twitter

Like, let’s be real, you were totally thinking the same thing.

And many were glad we may no longer have to hear about the horrors of plastic waste.

Like all too often you turn on the news and hear about animals being stuck, caught, wrapped up in plastic rings. Many even suffocate.

While at least on Twitter user thought about the implications for beer can furniture…

Credit: @larrykim

Because why not?!

And for the one person on Twitter who had their doubts…Twitter was ready with the truth.

Credit: @power97wpg / Twitter

Like for real though, I don’t know where you live that you thought you carry 24 cans of beer with plastic rings…

Mexican Artist Transforms 1,527 Deadly Guns Into Life-Giving Shovels To Plant Trees

Things That Matter

Mexican Artist Transforms 1,527 Deadly Guns Into Life-Giving Shovels To Plant Trees

botanicocln / veri_fp / Instagram

A Mexican artist and activist embarked on a project to gather as many firearms as he could from Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest death by gun violence rate in Mexico, and transform them into shovels that would instead plant trees. Artist Pedro Reyes, a Mexico City native, has long been using his art to illustrate how evil can be transformed into good, with the right perspective. While the United States has, by far, the highest number of firearms per capita (120.5 per 100 persons), Mexico ranks 60th in the world. Pedro Reyes wanted to do his part in getting the deadly weapons off the street.

Reyes set out in Culiacán, Mexico, to trade civilian’s weapons for coupons for electronics, and residents traded 1,527 weapons.

Pedro Reyes’s project, known as “Palas por Pistolas” publicized the gun exchange on television ads and through local media.

Credit: bintazd / Instagram

 All of this was made possible by the botanical garden of Culiacán, which has been commissioning artists to perform social impact interventions for years. Reyes made a proposal to the garden to organize a city-wide campaign for a voluntary donation of weapons. The commission was able to pay for television advertisements and liaise with local media to promote the project. Soon, the whole city knew that residents were invited to give up their guns in exchange for a coupon. Those coupons were then traded at a local store in exchange for domestic appliances and electronics.

Of the 1,527 weapons collected, 40 percent were automatic weapons, “exclusively” used for the military.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The second phase of the project was put on public display. All 1,527 guns were taken to a military zone and were crushed by a steamroller in a public act. Then, the pieces were taken to a foundry and melted down to its original form. Once again, the same metal that was transformed into guns became a ‘blank page,’ available to transform into absolutely anything. Reyes worked with a major hardware factory to create molds that would create exactly 1,527 shovels. 

Since they’ve been repurposed, 1,527 trees have been planted.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The shovels have been on display at a variety of art institutions. Admirers could read an inscription of the shovel’s origin story on the handle. Later, children and adults alike would feel the weight of what was once a gun in their hands as they dug up dirt to plant new life. Trees have been planted at the Vancouver Art Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, Paris’s Maison Rouge, Lyon Biennial, Marfa, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.

“This ritual has a pedagogical purpose of showing how an agent of death can become an agent of life,” Reyes said of the project. 

Credit: botanicocln / Instagram

Like every other Reyes project to date, the gift is a change in perspective. For whoever might have been injured or died at the hands of those 1,527 guns, as many trees have been planted in their honor. Reyes breaks down the concept of a gun to what it is: human intention and scrap metal. With a simple shift in intention, that metal has created lasting memories for children and created oxygen-giving life on this planet.  

Since “Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes has also installed “Imagine,” a similar concept that instead turns guns into musical instruments.

Credit: Pedro Reyes

In April 2012, Reyes was given the opportunity to transform human intention once again. “I got a call from the government who had learned about Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes said. “They told me a public destruction of weapons was to take place in Ciudad Juarez and asked me if I was interested in keeping the metal, which would otherwise have been buried as usual. I accepted the material but I wanted to do something new this time. 6700 weapons, cut into parts and rendered useless, were given to me and I set out to make them into instruments.”

“A group of 6 musicians worked for 2 weeks shoulder-to-shoulder turning these agents of death into instruments of life.”

Credit: Pedro Reyes

Reyes said it was far more challenging than simply turning the metal into shovels. The metal had to create sounds. “It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical,” Reyes writes. “It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.”

Living in a community free of guns ought to be a human right. Many liberties that we enjoy today were considered utopian, and the first step taken into that direction was to Imagine.” Reyes continues to draw attention not only to where guns are used, but where they are made. It is an industry and one he continues to reclaim for life.

READ: Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

Things That Matter

A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

America The Jesuit Review

The Catholic Church has had a varied position in the political spectrum in contemporary times in the Americas. While in South American countries such as Chile and Argentina it has aligned with conservative governments and those in power, in the United States this centuries-old institution has traditionally been seen as a progressive force that generally innovates when it comes to the inclusion of ethnic minorities (they are, however, still pretty conservative when it comes to gender and sexual diversity, and reproductive rights).

It should not come as a surprise that the conclave of US Catholic bishops just made a pretty big decision by choosing an immigrant archbishop as perhaps the highest ranking priest in the country. He is a defender of migrant rights and can potentially be highly influential with the Latino vote come the 2020 presidential election. 

José Gomez, an immigrant of Mexican heritage was just named the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

In vernacular terms, this is a BFD. Archbishop José Gomez leads the Church in Los Angeles, a key jurisdiction when it comes to important affairs such as immigration, bilateral relations with Mexico and progressive agendas that the Church traditionally opposes, such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Los Angeles is also the largest archdioceses in the country, in part due to the large population of Latinos and Filipinos, who are traditionally born and raised Catholic.

He was elected almost unanimously with 176 votes from his fellow bishops, with just 18 votes going to his opponent, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who was subsequently voted vice president.

America The Jesuit Review sums up his background: “Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, was ordained to the priesthood in the Opus Dei prelature in 1978. In 1980, he received a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of Navarra, in Spain. He served as a priest in Texas from 1987 to 2000”. Even though he comes from one of the most conservative congregations in the Church, the Opus Dei, he has made a career by defending the rights of the marginalized.

He is a defender of migrants and a fierce supporter of DACA, so his election could be read as a political statement.

Credit: America The Jesuit Review

Archbishop José Gomez has long defended migrant rights, which has made him popular among the Latino population of Los Angeles, one of the most multicultural metropolis in the world. Even though he had been serving as vice-president and his election followed tradition, some argue that it is also a sort of unofficial positioning of the Catholic Church against the iron-fisted immigration policies of the Trump administration, which have brought immense suffering to Latinos in the greater Los Angeles area, including forced family separations and deportations by the now despised government agency ICE. 

He doesn’t hold his words back when it comes to border affairs and the human crisis at hand.

Credit: The Intercept

As The New York Times reported, the archbishop said after his election: “We have this situation at the border, which is a tragedy. We are constantly talking about immigration, especially encouraging our elected officials to do something, and to come up with immigration reform that is reasonable and possible”. Traditionally the separation of Church and State has been pretty clear in the United States, but as some Christian Evangelical denominations have become quite tight with the Trump White House and validate its tough policies, perhaps the Catholic Church will be a counterbalance when it comes to political lobbying in defence of migrant rights. 

He was born in Mexico and now defends DACA recipients.

Archbishop Gomez, contrary to many men of the cloth, is very direct when it comes to his political position. In the eve of his election he read a message for DACA recipients from the pulpit, just as the Trump administration is fighting to reverse the program and as the president has called some DACA recipients “criminals” on Twitter.

The message read: “In this great country, we should not have our young people living under the threat of deportation, their lives dependent on the outcome of a court case. So, we pray tonight that our president and Congress will come together, set aside their differences, and provide our young brothers and sisters with a path to legalization and citizenship”.

As we said, he doesn’t hold back. This is an elegant way of opposing the POTUS without being confrontational. He also believes that there is a Latino wave in the Church, given that the Pope is Argentinian: “The fact that the pope is a Latino makes us feel a responsibility for the church. He has been a great blessing for me and for the church. For Latinos, it’s easy to understand some of the wonderful things Pope Francis is doing to reach out to people”.