Sun, Nov 18, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Residents, government of ‘Makesicko City’ clean up their act

By Laurent Thomet  /  AFP, MEXICO CITY

Cattan has received help from Gabriela Vargas, a 43-year-old former photographer whose passion was born 12 years ago when she planted vegetables in her balcony to make tastier, healthier food for her daughter.

“When I started 12 years ago, I was the crazy one growing lettuce in her apartment. Now it’s very common,” said Vargas, project director for Cultiva Ciudad (Cultivate City), which advises schools, individuals and institutions.

Vargas now sees bigger: She plants trees.

Last year, her organization donated 6,000 trees grown inside the city to various city districts.

Her new project is an orchard where she will grow apple, guava, peach and medlar trees. The city is lending her a 1,650m2 terrain where a high-rise was demolished.

While the city is getting greener, the smog is still visible, often clouding the surrounding mountain peaks.

Though carbon monoxide levels are down by 90 percent from 20 years ago, the city still has above recommended levels of ozone and suspended particulates, another pollutant.

“The good news is that the trend has been a consistent reduction [of ozone] in the last 10 years,” said Armando Retama, director of the city’s air quality monitoring service. “If the trend holds, Mexico City’s contamination problem will be almost resolved in 10 years.”

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