Sustainable, Guatemalan Wood & The Jungle School with Eliza Barbarczy on the Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

Podcast #17 · Eliza Babarczy · Sustainable, Guatemalan Wood & The Jungle School

“We all have to be conscious consumers, we can’t afford to not be anymore. If you’re aware at all of what’s happening in the world, you have to buy consciously. So we’re trying to provide that product.”

Eliza Babarczy

Eliza was born in the USA and grew up in Guatemala City to visionary parents who today, run The Jungle School for 400 kids in San Andres, Petén, Guatemala. Back in the USA, she enjoyed a career in PR and events before hearing the call to return to Guatemala to start Itza Wood, the social enterprise that uses local, responsibly sourced wood offcuts (that would otherwise be wasted or burned) to create beautiful heirloom pieces while employing local people and supporting education at The Jungle School.

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This interview was done jungle style! We hung out with the fabulous Eliza in the gardens of the Jungle School in San Andres, Petén, Guatemala. The birds were singing, the spiders jumping and the wind blowing so please forgive the range of noises and momentary distractions ;). This was a relaxed and reflective interview that covered the following:

  • Eliza’s background, born in the USA and growing up in Guatemala and a description of the region (~01:15)
  • Eliza’s travels and studies in the USA, culture shock returning to the USA and how Eliza’s varied career has helped contribute to her entrepreneurship skills (~05:40)
  • The path to moving back to Guatemala, becoming a social entrepreneur and the idea of Itza Wood (~07:55)
  • The beauty of a simple life (~12:00)
  • An overview of Itza Wood, utilizing scraps of native tropical woods to make beautiful products (~13:05)
  • Itza Wood’s mission including education, conservation and enterprise and an overview of the Jungle School (~16:00)
  • The Jungle School’s previous life and what it took to get it up and running (~18:50)
  • Providing local jobs for graduating students and local carpenters (~19:55)
  • Deforestation in the Mayan Biosphere in Petén, Guatemala (~21:30)
  • How Itza Wood ensures that it is not contributing to deforestation (~23:35)
  • Itza Wood’s impact to date, including local employment and tree planting (~25:05)
  • Itza Wood’s product range including the craftsmanship, the quality and local supplies (~29:45)
  • What concerns Eliza most about where the world is at and how she sees her role in addressing these issues (~35:00)
  • Social enterprises Eliza is excited about, the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Guate and the growth of business that cares (~36:20)
  • What’s next for Itza Wood, including exporting to the US market and adapting the business model to any country (~40:25)
  • How to buy from Itza Wood today and follow along with Itza Wood’s progress (~43:05)
  • Eliza’s advice for others wanting to back an impact and live a more meaningful life (~45:10)

That’s why we want to focus on education so that when the students grow up, they’ll realize that cutting down a tree and selling it quickly for a cheap price isn’t sustainable and isn’t helping anyone.”

Eliza Babarczy

Notable Links

Itza Wood:

Sustainable, Guatemalan Wood & The Jungle School with Eliza Barbarczy on the Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

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