Costa Rica is globally recognized as being an earth-friendly country and certainly the most earthy-friendly country in Central America. While no country is currently perfect in their practices and policies, Costa Rica does have a lot to be proud of in regard to the efforts being made to protect the planet. The policy makers and people of Costa Rica (both native and expat) still have a lot to learn and a long way to go in terms of making Costa Rica a completely sustainable and green country, but things are definitely going in the right direction for the most part.
Protecting our collective Mother is an effort that needs to not only take place in one’s home country, but also while traveling or living abroad. While there are great lessons to be learned while you are in Costa Rica, there are also great contributions that you can make to help protect this special place. Here are some of the easiest ways to be earth and ocean-friendly while in Playa Grande, Costa Rica or in any other part of the country or the world.
Sin pajilla por favor
Did you know that an estimated one billion plastic straws are used every single day around the world? Plastic straws are one of the top ten items picked up during a beach clean-up. It is believed that plastic straws take up to 200 years to decompose and at the rate the world is currently using plastics straws, we will never be void of them unless we make a change. The good news is, this is a simple change that requires very little effort.
Several restaurants and establishments in Costa Rica and in Playa Grande and Guanacaste in particular have pledged to the No Straw Challenge. The No Straw Challenge was actually initiated by Playa Grande’s own Max Machum, an inspiring young teenager who took matters into his own hands and went door to door asking business owners in and around Playa Grande, Playa Tamarindo, and Playa Avellenas to take the No Straw Challenge. It’s time to say goodbye to plastic straws and what better time and place to start than while in Playa Grande.
It’s okay to drink the water
Did you know that an estimated one million single-use plastic bottles are purchased every single minute around the world? Did you also know that 91% of plastic, including plastic water bottles, are not actually recycled? A plastic bottle can take more than 450 years to decompose. This is a world-wide habitat that needs to be broken. Unlike other countries in Central America, the water in Costa Rica, especially in more developed tourist-friendly towns, is safe to drink. One of the best ways to eliminate your single-use plastic bottle consumption in Costa Rica and at home is by using a re-useable water bottle and filling it up as necessary. They even make ones that have a water filter built into it.
Use reef-friendly sunscreen
Did you know that 25 to 60 million bottles worth of sunscreen washes off our skin and into the ocean every year? The common ingredients in the most common sunscreen brands include oxybenzone, butylparaban, octinoxate, and 4MBC. These particular ingredients have been linked to the destruction of our reefs and are harmful to the marine environment. Fortunately, there is another type of sunscreen that is equally if not more effective.
Mineral sunscreen, or physical sunscreen, does not contain any of these toxic chemicals but instead has zinc oxide and titanium oxide as the active ingredients. Sunscreen is very expensive to buy in Costa Rica and since you will have far more sunscreen choices at home, why not bring something that is safe for the environment and safe for you and your family?
A few other earth-friendly practices
Turn off the lights, fans, and air conditioning when you are not using them in your house, vacation rental, or hotel. (In 2017, Costa Rica went 300 consecutive days powering the country with 100% renewable energy. It is important to be mindful of your energy consumption to help Costa Rica continue this amazing feat.)
Pick up any trash that you encounter on the beach. (If everyone picked up five pieces of trash every time they went to the beach, think how much cleaner our beaches would be?)
Walk or bike around town instead of driving. (Playa Grande is very small and it is easy to get from one place to another without always driving there.)
Buy Costa Rican brands and shop for produce at the local farmer’s markets. (The less distance a product has to travel, the less heavy its carbon footprint is.)
Drive slowly. (It is not uncommon for iguanas, dogs, cats, monkeys, cows, horses, and other wildlife to be in or crossing the road.)
Small changes can make monumental differences. If we all do a little, a lot can change.