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From Empties to Art: Sustainability in Action at Pueblo Bonito Resorts

May 25, 2022

Innovative eco-friendly practices designed to minimize damage to the environment have been a key initiative at Pueblo Bonito Resorts since the early days. Our hospitality company has raised recycling efforts to a fine art – literally! 

Guests at Pueblo Bonito’s five resort hotels routinely drain and recycle bottles by the ton. Israel Battista, a third-generation artisan who runs the San Miguel Blown Glass Factory in the nearby village of El Arenal, collects up to two tons of empties from the resorts each month and trucks them to his factory. Each bottle is cleaned, crushed and melted in special ovens. Glass-blowers dip long hollow tubes into the molten glass and blow bubbles. Battista and his artisans shape the melted bottles into hearts, fish, vases and other objets d’art. These handiworks have become iconic cultural symbols in Los Cabos and throughout Mexico.

In a perfect circle of sustainability, Pueblo Bonito not only supplies the raw materials for Battista’s creations, we buy back the art pieces by the hundreds to display around our hotels and communities. (For example, dozens of shiny red hearts dangle from the branches of a torote tree in the circular entrance to Pacifica). These hand-crafted items are also for sale in the resorts’ gift shops. The byproducts of this unique recycling initiative sends a special message to eco-conscious travelers who prize sustainability efforts and who want to see local communities benefit from their visits. 

We caught up with Sr. Bautista in his hot little shop around the mountainside from Quivira Los Cabos, where he works over the low roar of fires at his factory. Here’s a first-hand report of what he does.

How long does it take to make a heart?

About 10 minutes. Then they cool for 14 hours. We have to be very careful. Hearts can break easily during the manufacturing process. 

How hot are the ovens?

About 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. I made them with my brother-in-law. There's no school for this. You learn it by being around it. I was working in my great-grandfather's shop as a teenager.

Where's the sand you use?

We dont use sand. We start with recycled bottles.

Where do those come from?

We get all we need from the resorts at Pueblo Bonito. And then we make everything by hand. We can make about 150 pieces in a day, at most. We made the centerpieces for LaFrida.

The restaurant at Sunset Beach?

Yes. Pueblo Bonito Resorts gave me a chance when I was starting out. It's been a good relationship for everyone. 

And that includes the Baja environment!

Plan your next visit and experience Bautista's eco-friendly, fine art!