Galapagos Foundation: Metropolitan Touring’s sustainable commitment

09/Noviembre/2012 | 16:43

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

If you have taken a look around Ecuador and thought the country just is not recycling enough, conserving enough energy, or simply moving too slowly to be sustainable, then you need a visit to the Galapagos Islands.

Islands in general have very limited space to dispose of their trash.  But the Galapagos in particular fall under special circumstances: virtually 100 percent of their territory is under some kind of national and international environmental protection.  With limited commercial and economic opportunities, the Galapagos needs not only tourism, but responsible tourism.  Or put another way: they need Metropolitan Touring.

Recognizing the harsh impact tourism and commercial activities take on the Galapagos Islands, Metropolitan Touring created the Galapagos Foundation not only to mitigate harm, but to try to make a shift in the way people think and act.

Metropolitan Touring adopted an environmental policy that directs their actions and activities – from waste classification and recycling, to clean up days and gardens to produce their own foods.  They recognize that sustainability means staying as local as possible.  So they use local suppliers such as bakeries to provide their breads and, as an international company with locations throughout the Americas, they have consciously cut down on their own travel, using technology to help minimize their own carbon footprint.

Here is a closer look at how Metropolitan Touring is trying to preserve the Galapagos at the same time they reserve it for thousands of visitors every year.

Cleaning up the mess

International Coastal Clean-up Day is celebrated every year in September.  This year, on the four inhabited islands of the Galapagos, the Galapagos Foundation, along with the Coca-Cola Foundation, the Ecuadorian Navy, the Municipality of Santa Cruz and the Galapagos National Park, collected 3,168 kilos of trash, or almost 3.5 tons. 

It is hard to believe that much trash could be found in the Galapagos, but the Foundation has collected far more over the course of this century.  In fact, in the past fourteen years they have collected a total of 117,000 kilos, or nearly 258,000 tons of garbage. 


A better practice than picking up discarded waste is to never discard it in the first place, but rather recycle it.  It may initially sound far-fetched, but recycling results by the Fabricio Valverde Recycling Center at Santa Cruz are even far more impressive than the clean-up days.

The Valverde Center recycles glass, plastics, cardboard, paper, batteries and other material.  All combined, through 2010, they had recycled more than two million kilos, most of it being shipped back to recycling facilities on mainland Ecuador – the cost being born by the foundation and Metropolitan Touring aboard the tourism company’s cargo ship.

The Center at Santa Cruz processes more than 50 percent of all recyclable materials on the archipelago. A smaller plant on Isabela is complemented by recycling stations at points throughout the island.  Additionally, household containers for sorting have been distributed and they have the use of a collection vehicle, which was donated by the European Union.

On San Cristóbal the RELUSAN initiative collects burned engine oils and byproducts, like filters - a program in which hundreds of ships and boats that operate in the area deliver their used fossil fuels for shipment back to the mainland, up to 20,000 liters every six months.  The program works with the participation of the Santa Cruz Harbor and Municipality and other partners such as the Coca-Cola Foundation and RELUGAL.

Fostering new attitude

If recycling is better than discarding, then creating a world where recycling is not even necessary would seem optimal.  This would mean the simple chore of never printing a paper if it can simply remain electronic or growing and purchasing food locally to avoid transporting it over long distances which is energy intensive.  Both efforts are done by Metropolitan Touring and are part of creating a sustainable world that requires fundamental paradigm shifts in behavior – something achieved through education, particularly aimed at younger generations.

Metropolitan Touring operates a fleet of boats in the Galapagos.  They use those to expose students and teachers to the wonder of the Galapagos ecosystems.  Since 2005, more than 300 students have benefitted from their efforts.

On Santa Cruz, they have organized a “Guardians of the Sea” group with the help of other partners, where members take courses focused on productive marine activities, scuba diving, and snorkeling to further marine knowledge. 

Floreana Island is the site of workshops that teach children the importance of recycling and how to correctly separate solid waste.

There are many more initiatives that contribute to community education and support including collaborative efforts with the Galapagos Whale Shark Program and the Cousteau Foundation to promote wildlife conservation. 

Metropolitan Touring has shown they are a natural by-produce of the spirit of the Galapagos – a place where survival has always depended on the ability to change in the face of circumstances that necessitated it.

Follow the updates from the Foundation at


Ciudad Santa Cruz

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