McALLEN — Which is more sustainable — paper, plastic or a reusable bag?

Carly Tencza, a nature educator at Quinta Mazatlán, asked the question Thursday during her presentation titled “Living Green: Three Simple Steps,” which was the first of the 2018 Quinta Mazatlán Fall Speaker Series.

Paper bags are made of trees, which she explained takes up a lot of resources to produce. Reusable bags are better, but they’re usually made of plastic and are difficult to clean. She suggests using a cotton bag, preferably one made out of an old T-shirt.

Throughout her presentation she showed the audience how to take on sustainability dilemmas such as the former, and explained how things most people normally overlook can make a huge difference for the environment.

She admits sustainability is complex, and when asking yourself those questions, it might be best to look at nature as an example.

“In a way, nature is a zero-waste economy,” Tencza said.

She added that in America, we’ve become a “throw-away” society. Consumerism brings us to buy disposable items instead of reusable ones, and to throw things away when they get old instead of refurbishing them, she said.

It’s important to think about how long our waste will remain in the ground.

“All those red Solo cups we may have drank out of in college? Those are still around,” Tencza said, admitting that the cliff bar she had earlier that day will also stay on the planet for hundreds of years.

This is at least the fourth year Quinta Mazatlán hosts the Fall Speaker Series, and since the series began, the types of events and speakers featured has changed.

“It used to be just birds, plants, birds, plants,” said Victor De Leon, marketing and tourism supervisor at Quinta Mazatlán. “We decided to shake it up a bit.”

This year there are cooking demos and a folk healing class. Each presentation lasts 45 minutes with a 15-minute question-and-answer portion.

For more information on Quinta Mazatlán, visit:

Sept. 6 – Living Green with Carly Tencza

Sept. 13 – Wetlands and Resacas with Sabrina Lartz

Sept. 27 – Cultural Songs & South Texas Tales with Jorge Trujillo

Oct. 4 – Native Plants for Birds & Butterflies with Mike Heep

Oct. 11 – Terrestrial Snails of the RGV with Briante Najev

Oct. 18 – Sustainability as a tool for Success with Marinella Franklin

Oct. 25 – Sustainable Agriculture of South Texas with Stephanie Kasper

Nov. 1 – Raptors! LIVE Birds of Prey with Jonathon Wood

Nov. 8 – Raptors of the RGV with Erik Bruhnke

Nov. 15 – Natural Healing & Folk Remedies with Danielle Lopes

Nov. 29 – Cooking Rio Grande Style with Melissa Guerra