Viva Tropical - A shift towards more sustainable living with less impact on the environment is often a driving force behind expats deciding to move to Latin America. However many countries lack many of the modern conveniences in the Western World that protect the environment.
Costa Rica in recent years has proven itself to be a trendsetter regarding ecotourism and sustainability on a national level. The country is filled with protected national parks that support the incredible biodiversity that abounds. However in many towns simple conservation efforts like waste management are completely undeveloped. In fact it’s not uncommon for people to litter and recycling is rarely even an option.
Nosara, situated on the coast of the Northern Nicoya Peninsula, has in recent years developed a highly environmentally sustainable community. The hope of this community is to set the trend for greater sustainability in Costa Rica on a micro level beyond ecotourism.
Nosara Recycling and Education Center
The efforts of the Nosara Recycling and Education Center aim to reduce the amount of trash in the Nosara garbage dump by 80% by educating the community about proper waste management and collecting and processing recyclables.
This project is part of sLAB Costa Rica, an initiative set forth by the NYIT School of Architecture. Through funding from kickstarter.com, sLAB has managed to send students from NYIT to Nosara to develop and build this program.
They have already built and developed the center that collects, sorts, compacts, and sells recyclables for future transformation and created a documentary film about waste management and sustainable practices in Costa Rica. They hope to inspire Costa Rica as a whole with these efforts, as well as other tropical towns all over the world.
The organization Sustainable Nosara has made huge strides in making Nosara a more sustainable place to live. Rather than address community issues as individual concerns, Sustainable Nosara brought together important community associations including the Nosara Civic Association, the Chamber of Tourism, and the Recycling Association.
The organization leads many conservation efforts including monthly beach cleanups and tree planting on beaches, rivers, and roads.
Sustainable Home Project
While many hotels and businesses in Nosara have worked to develop sustainable practices, Jessica Sheffield found that homes in the area had not followed suit. She developed the Sustainable Home project to create an incentive to promote sustainability in local homes in Nosara. The goal is to award homes that meet certain sustainability standards. This program has been adopted by the Ecological Blue Flag Program (PBAE), which works internationally to fight beach pollution and awards Blue Flags to organizations that meet their sustainability standards.
By offering these awards, she hopes to resolve many ecological challenges in the Nosara community including waste management, water scarcity, and wasted electricity and water. The goal is to create a culture that works towards decreasing consumption to promote a greener, healthier community.
Adopt a Blue Flag School Program
The Adopt a Blue Flag School Program works in a similar way to the Sustainable Home Project. It awards Blue Flags to schools that meet sustainability requirements on anything from water quality to environmental education. Five schools in Nosara are participating this year and they hope to eventually include all schools in the area.
Nosara Recycling Association
The Nosara Recycling Association was formed in 2008 and has paved the way towards proper waste management. In addition to working with sLAB on their community recycling center, they spearhead several efforts.
No Styrofoam Campaign
By asking consumers to demand biodegradable containers from businesses and building their own line of these disposables made from cornstarch and sugarcane, the Nosara Recycling Association hopes to stop the use of styrofoam. Their goal is to be the first community in Costa Rica to eliminate this environmentally damaging material.
Disposal of Cooking Oil
Cooking oil causes massive amounts of pollution and the association is leading the effort to collect cooking oil from restaurants, businesses, and homes, and convert it into biodiesel.
To teach the community about composting, recycling, and waste management, the association has sponsored workshops in schools, local libraries, and churches.
In collaboration with the Caricaco Music Festival, the Recycling Association managed to produce a trash-free event. In fact, most materials were completely compostable. They plan to continue to promote events like these in the future.
Reusable Shopping Bags
The Nosara Recycling Assocation sponsors reusable shopping bags to eliminate the use of plastic. They are made locally in San Jose and can be found at supermarkets in Playa Guiones.
Electronic Waste Collection
Discarded computers, batteries, and other electronics cause a huge problem for dumpsites and are highly hazardous. The association has begun a waste collection campaign to recycle and dispose of electronics without harm.
The environmental efforts by community members in Nosara is deeply inspiring and progressive for the rest of Costa Rica. With greater awareness, other villages in the country and in the world will hopefully follow this movement towards a cleaner, healthier community and Earth.