The increase in the supply of energy from renewable sources and the ecological debt that has been decreasing since 2011, are indicators of the path in favor of the environment that Costa Ricans have decided to take.
However, there are actions that could improve the current situation in this area. According to the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the country annually consumes 1.7 million plastic bottles per day, that is, 622 million annually; of this amount, less than 2% is recycled.
The 2017 State of the Environment report indicates that in the past Costa Ricans produced very little waste and those that existed were buried in patios or reused. Now, according to Agustín Gómez, from the UCR Development Observatory, they are used and thrown away without control.
“The rejection of single-use plastic must be accompanied by proposals to provide citizens with facilities that modify or generate the pattern of responsible consumption. It is necessary to get uncomfortable as citizens and return to more sustainable patterns,” said Gómez.
These sustainable patterns have returned little by little, as well as environmental awareness in society has grown, which in part translates into the implementation of projects and initiatives in favor of the environment.
Eco-bottles (also known as eco-blocks or eco-bricks) are one of them, because to create them, two types of waste produced at home are combined: plastic packaging and polyethylene terephthalate bottles known by its acronym in English PET. (polyethylene terephthalate). They consist of filling an empty plastic bottle with waste that cannot be recycled otherwise, for example, nylon bags, cellophane or metallic plastic packaging such as cookies.
As part of the initiative, many ways to use them have been proposed, among them the function of thermal insulation within wooden structures and in other countries they have been used to build buildings.
This last option would be possible if the ecoblocks are placed on a wire mesh and then glued with sand and cement, although Antonio Calvo, from the Environmental Coalition, clarifies that in Costa Rica they cannot be used for habitable buildings at the moment.
How to do it
Building such a unit is not very time consuming and easy to do: Get an empty 1 liter and even 3 liter plastic bottle. Carefully wash and dry the container before starting to fill it. Clean and if necessary, dry the packages that will be deposited inside the bottle.
Introduce the packages in the container. Strongly compress the packages that are inside to achieve weight. When no more wrappers enter and it has been well compacted, the bottle should be recapped. Save it and take it to one of the centers where they are received.
There are 15 collection points throughout the country, including: the Public Library of Heredia, the Municipality of Parrita in Puntarenas, the University of Costa Rica at its Rodrigo Facio headquarters, and the Cartago Public Library.
Without losing consciousness
The founding member of the Volunteer Environmental Coalition, Juan Carlos Núñez, began in 2018 with this community that aims to raise environmental awareness through education, actions and sharing points of view and initiatives.
According to the founder of the community, the problem with ecoblocks lies in the fact that many people do not inform themselves properly and deposit any type of garbage in the bottles and even lose the sense of raising awareness about the excessive use of these containers or wrappers. To be part of the Volunteer Environmental Coalition, you can communicate with them through Facebook and participate in pro-environment campaigns.