Why it’s Easier to Live Greener in Costa Rica

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    Many people wish to live a more ecofriendly lifestyle, but find they just can’t get into the groove of it.

    Society in the States hasn’t quite caught up to the rest of the Western World, as far as the encouragement of recycling goes. For example, in Norway, citizens pay an additional tax for each plastic bottle purchase, and machines are available in every grocery store to collect used bottles and reimburse accordingly. You’ll never find a recyclable piece of plastic in the parks or public trashcans, because less-fortunate people spend entire days scouting for bottles throughout town to make a few bucks.

    In warmer countries like Costa Rica, greener practices are far less common due to lack of knowledge, but it is still an ideal environment to dive into your own methods for treading with a lighter ecological footprint.

    Costa Rican Climate

    Due to the warm weather that graces this sweet spot of Central America, a variety of fruits and vegetables can be grown throughout the year. The rainy season, which arrives around April and quenches the thirst of the land through October, provides enough natural watering for gardens of all sizes. While we were there, we enjoyed our own little vegetable and herb garden. Soon, a whole portion of our yard was dotted with young plants and fruit trees. The prolonged Spring-like weather also has other green benefits.

    In most of the United States, there is a distinct change in the seasons. Winters can be quite harsh for those of us in the North, and the thought of spending any time in the cold winds would be unpleasant and even painful. This makes line drying clothes outside an impossibility. This can only be comfortably practiced in the warmer months, when the clothes could also survive the outdoors. In Costa Rica, the beautifully warm climate invites it’s visitors outside daily, and going out to hang clothes on the line can be a source of enjoyment. Nothing beats seeing my cloth diapers dangling against the backdrop of mountains in the morning sun. It is a moment of captured respect for Mother Earth, while mothering my own children.

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    [quote_box_right]Learn about the ethics of recycling in Costa Rica and find a recently-updated list of collection centers: Costa Rica has a Dirty Little Secret.[/quote_box_right]

    While recycling is not widely practiced by the general public in this country, it is certainly possible. We found a recycling drop-off station downtown in the famous park of Atenas, which had bins set up for paper, plastics, and glass. By taking a bag of recycling with us each time we visit the town center, we can keep up our green efforts with little inconvenience.

    Transportation in Costa Rica

    A major way we can easily contribute to a better planet is by not owning a car. The public transportation system in Costa Rica is excellent. It is efficient, clean, and affordable. The buses are always right on time, and as a community, we spend far less fuel and emissions getting around town than by lugging private SUVs up and down the hills. This was a huge change from our American up-bringing, but we are loving the freedom that comes by not owning a car and by diminishing our ecological impact in such a simple, yet weighty mode.

    Costa Rican Housing

    Many homes in Costa Rica are built with American standards to attract foreign renters. They have hot and cold running water, dish washers (well, a few might) and laundry dryers.

    For the typical Costa Rican, however, these luxuries do not exist, and are not desired. While we do have a standard hot water tank, we have been introduced to a simple way to keep the energy consumption low. It’s a known deficiency of a traditional hot water tank to lose temperature over a period of time, so it has to continually reheat the water that’s not even being used. Knowing this, we flip on the breaker to warm up the water supply maybe thirty minutes before we shower, then we flip it off. We wash our dishes by hand with the luke-warm aqua that naturally flows from the mountain springs above. Our laundry is washed in the same cool temperature, and our clothes are doing just fine. I had never planned on flipping such a switch in our household practices, but it has turned out to be a simple process.

    Pura Vida Verde

    As we lived in Costa Rica, our eyes steadily opened to new ways to help the world we sleep, eat, and breathe in. Learning in a place so naturally molded to support life made us see that it can be so simple to thrive in a manner respectful of this giving and generous planet, who has grown and raised all of mankind. She really is a Mother Earth, and if our days can be spent with less impact on the soil than when our figurative and literal footprints began, then shouldn’t we at least try?

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