Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual who embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the entrepreneur, builder, gardener, and innovator Omar de Jesus Vazquez Sanchez.
Omar Vazquez grew up surrounded by nature – and the hardships of poverty. It shaped him into someone who takes action, he says. He remembers singing for spare change on the street as a child before his single mother moved the family to the U.S. as an unauthorized immigrant. They picked grapes in California, and Mr. Vazquez dropped out of high school to double down on what he considers his profession: gardening.
The American dream never appealed to him as much as a “Mexican dream”—a mix of memories from his childhood and dreams of being a gardener back home, so he moved back.
Omar’s journey began in 2015 when sargassum seaweed started washing up on the shores of the Riviera Maya. When others saw a problem, Omar saw an opportunity to turn it into a sustainable solution, including placing it in the service of people who need it the most.
His cleanup crew provided work for 300 families, and not long after, he found the sargassum could be used to make blocks. The blocks contain 40% sargassum, and from 2021 to the present day, he’s used almost 6,000 tons of the stinky stuff to fire blocks, which he’s used to building structures all around the state of Jalisco.
Omar Vazquez created a sustainable company called Sargablock. Sargablock is a construction material made from sargassum seaweed, brown algae that wash up on Caribbean beaches and costs a fortune to the tourism industry. Interest has spread from Mexico to countries around the Caribbean and beyond.
The UNDP selected Omar Vazquez’s work transforming sargassum for their Accelerator Lab, which identifies and broadcasts creative solutions to environmental and sustainability challenges globally. The idea is that some of the most timely and creative responses come from locals living firsthand the repercussions of ecological dilemmas.
Here is Omar Vazquez in his own words:
People from countries like Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Malaysia and the United States are contacting us for help in doing what we are doing. They’re all hit harder every day by the seaweed washing up on their beaches. It is maybe nature’s way of telling us to protect our seas. We must be aware of what is happening on the beaches. The sea is very wise and is telling us something. The contamination we have created over so many years tells us to care for what we have.
Today we honor Omar de Jesus Vazquez Sanchez as our Evolved Man of the Week.
One response to “The Evolved Man of the Week: Omar Vazquez”
Great story of innovation and sustainability! Omar Vazquez’s work transforming sargassum into a construction material is truly inspirational.
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