5 tips to help the planet from Costa Rica


In December 2016, Costa Rica and 194 other countries signed a landmark climate agreement aimed at averting a climate catastrophe and, with it, a major human tragedy. What if, with the start of the new year, we as individuals start making lifestyle changes to help make this business successful?

Allan Pounds, a Costa Rican scientist born in the United States, says real change doesn’t depend on government alone. “Each of us has to think about our way of life. We have a huge impact and, as consumers, we have the power to make change. “

Here are 5 Simple Things You Can Do in Costa Rica to Help Protect the Earth

1. Reduce plastic

It’s not easy to avoid plastic – it’s everywhere – but you can make small changes to reduce your plastic consumption and make sure, for example, that the plastic straw you used at lunch doesn’t block. the respiratory tract of a sea turtle. You can start by saying: “No thanks,”When the straw is offered.

Here are some ways to reduce the use of plastic in the home:

Use fabric bags. Bring your own fabric bags to the market and avoid picking up multiple plastic bags that will end up in the trash. Fabric bags last longer and will withstand a much heavier load. Plus, you can start to get used to a possible future when plastic bags are banned in Costa Rica.

Buy glass drinks instead of plastic containers. You can reuse the glass bottle for water or recycle it.

Buy a set of sturdy plastic plates, cups and utensils that you can reuse over and over again when hosting parties. This will save you money in the long run and keep a lot of throwaway party gear out of oceans, rivers, and landfills. And your guests will be impressed.

Use matches instead of plastic lighters. Billions of lighters are thrown away every year and seabirds are drawn to their brilliant colors. A recent study found that almost all seabirds on earth will have plastic in their bellies by 2050.

Find other ways to reduce plastic waste here.

Alberto Font / The Tico Times

2. Save water and energy

While water is a renewable resource, clean, fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce. And an increasingly erratic climate means water is often not where we need it, when we need it – just ask the people of Guanacaste.

Turn off the tap when you are not using the water directly, collect rainwater for reuse on your plants (they will like it much better than tap water), only start the washing machine when you have a full charge, take shorter showers and, if possible, install water-saving shower heads – the models available have improved a lot in recent years.

Turn off televisions, fans and lights when not in use and especially when you leave the house. Unplug charging electronic devices when you are finished charging them.

With Costa Rica’s relatively high utility rates, you’ll feel even better when you get that reduced bill.

Find other ways to save water at home here.

3. Reuse / Recycle

Make a New Year’s resolution to reuse everything you can, instead of throwing them in the trash after their first use. You can reuse containers, bottles, boxes, paper and more, and create homemade decorations, jars and toys for kids.

If you don’t want to, in Costa Rica you can recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and glass bottles and more through the Teletica and Ambientados recycling program, which takes place every first Thursday and Friday of the month, at 35 different locations around the countryside. In addition, there is a recycling station at the Feria Verde in Aranjuez on Saturday mornings.

Find more interesting ways to reuse products here or here.

Alberto Font / The Tico Times
Alberto Font / The Tico Times

4. Drive less

Car emissions are the main contributor to air pollution in cities like San José. In Costa Rica, cars consume 66% of the total hydrocarbons consumed in the country and are responsible for 54% of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

You can reduce your driving by using the train, your bicycle or walking. In Costa Rica there are special cycle paths, or ciclovias, in San José and Cartago, and there are many groups that promote the use of bicycles, for example, Bici Amigable offers different programs and bicycles for rent, and Chepecletas organizes bike tours around San José.

people who ride bikes
Alberto Font / The Tico Times

5. Eat less meat

If you are a meat lover, you don’t have to be drastic and stop eating cold turkey meat. Instead, you can help the planet by reducing the amount of meat in your diet.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the livestock sector generates 18 percent more greenhouse gases than the transport sector, most of which comes from manure. Cattle breeding is also the main cause of deforestation.

Although soy meat like tofu is not as common in Costa Rica as it is in the United States, it can be found. In addition, pulses are an everyday dish and provide a good level of protein which can be used in many dishes as a meat substitute.

This article was first published in 2016

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