Playa Hermosa Beach, Costa Rica: On Saturday, March 9th 2019, Founders of Envision Festival, the event’s green team and a crew of about 35 volunteers gathered to address the impact of unregulated vendors at Hermosa beach, just outside the grounds of the festival. There were the remains of freestanding structures, more than one metric ton of trash, several partially submerged refrigerators and hundreds of half-eaten coconuts, which if not disposed of properly are a common health risk to the local community.
Karla Strauhal Gaytan and Mikey Struhaul, Envision Festival’s Eco Crew Co-Managers recounted the details. “After four days of removing waste from the beach, we have seen deforestation of protected shoreline jungle on an unprecedented scale. More than fifty refrigerators were left behind, five of which were in the water, including one refrigerator that we found a few hundred meters down the beach. Thankfully, we were able to retrieve it when it was washed back up by the high tide. Altogether, we have cleaned and hauled away over twenty-five bags that we would estimate at roughly 1,500-gallons of micro MOOP waste. And that doesn’t even account for large materials, all the trash piles unregulated vendors left and walked away from, the campfire remains, wood piles, human waste, all the cut flora that they used to decorate their vending booths, and campsites that were left behind almost entirely. We even discovered one of them had dug up a crocodile pit, and left it for us to sort. It’s upsetting to see this happen and have no ability to hold any of the vendors accountable for cleaning up after themselves.”
With each year the festival has seen an evolution in street vending out on the beach. In addition to being one of the most celebrated displays of Costa Rican culture at Envision, the founders view the beach as one of the most picturesque natural landscapes in the country. Under the guiding ethos of environmentalism that the festival is built around, the duty to protect the earth’s natural beauty falls to each of us – any where, any time.
Envision’s Co-Founder, Josh Wendel explained Envision’s commitment to the beach, “Envision Festival may only take place four days a year, but Costa Rica is our home. We work very hard to set an example of a festival that prioritizes the environment. What happens outside of the gates of Envision on the beach has been a sore spot for years. We are committed to making sure that our home beach is left cleaner and greener than it was before the festival. Whether you’re a tourist from a far off land, an expat that calls Costa Rica home (like myself), or you were born in Costa Rica, the responsibility to treat this planet as if it is the only one we have is shared by us all. Envision is a showcase of sustainability that could course-correct the environmental crisis that is unfolding in front of us. We believe you are what you do, not what you say you do. That’s why Envision is committed to leading by example within the festival grounds, in Costa Rica, and beyond.”
Why is this important?
Envision holds a central belief that every human has the responsibility to better the health of body and planet. To do this the event’s organizers offer yoga, permaculture, herbal medicine, ancient wisdom, activism and other interdisciplinary practices, which throughout history have inspired wholesome living in alignment with the ‘Pura Vida‘ way of life.
With a history as a deforested cattle pasture, Rancho La Merced is treated as a regenerative experiment beyond ‘sustainable’. The site today exists as a year round permaculture farm nestled sweetly in the Costa Rican Jungle. More than 15,000 trees have been planted on it since the start of the festival. Outside Rancho La Merced, more than 45,000 trees have been planted in collaboration with local non-profit Costas Verdes, but those aren’t the only efforts extending beyond the gates of the festival. Since January, the Beach Clean Up initiatives headed by Andres Vargas have removed more than 4-tons of waste from Costa Rican beaches, so even though cleaning up the beach outside the event doesn’t fall under the organizers jurisdiction, they’re still rallying to keep Costa Rica beautiful.
“When I see our growing number of volunteers who show up with us to share in the work of beautifying Costa Rica I get a rush of hope for the future, especially seeing that Tourists and Ticos both are receptive to the part they have to play.” Says Andres Vargas, Public Affairs Officer at Envision Festival. “It’s a reminder to me of the duty we all share to leave the planet better than it was when we arrived.”
Read more about Envision’s Green Practices in our ALL NEW Eco Event Guide. An open source, self-help tool for festival producers who want to make a positive impact on the environment.