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How Costa Rica is Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Tourism

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country in Central America. With lush jungles and pristine beaches, the country boasts a multitude of sights to see. With the breathtaking landscape and the friendly locale, Costa Rica is a great spot to consider for your next vacation. There are so many things to do and see when traveling to Costa Rica that it can be hard to do everything in one trip. Because of the abundance of sights to see and activities to do, Costa Rica has become a popular tourist destination. As the number of visitors traveling to Costa Rica grows, their practices have changed. Costa Ricans have adapted their sustainability practices to now include tourism. And now Costa Rica is leading the way in sustainable tourism and acting as an example for other countries.

Efforts to Counteract Waste Produced by Tourism

In 2018, in an effort to counteract the additional waste that tourists produce, Costa Rica committed to completely ban single-use plastics by 2021. The ban will include plastic cutlery, bags, straws, cups, and bottles. While the three-year goal may seem steep, Costa Rica is well on its way to fulfilling the commitment on time. This shouldn’t come as a surprise consider Costa Rica is known for fulfilling environmental promises. Over the last 30 years, the country has completely reversed its deforestation. In fact, they have doubled their forest cover from 26% to 52% of the country. Seeing that Costa Rica has been committed to reversing environmental damage since the late ‘80s shows that they are not playing around when it comes to sustainability.

The commitment to banning single-use plastics by 2021 stretches further than simply helping the environment. Despite Costa Rica’s efforts toward sustainability, the country still improperly disposes of 800 tons of solid waste daily. This improperly disposed of trash often ends up on beaches, shorelines, and in landscapes across the country. The discarded trash does not do anything positive for tourism. Because the country cannot afford the environmental loss or loss in tourism, their efforts to clean up their waste disposal methods are twice as important to the country’s future.

Investing in Renewable Energy

Outside of waste disposal and plastic bans, Costa Rica is also investing time and money into renewable energy. In fact, they are one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to using renewable energy. Costa Rica announced in 2007 that it had set a national goal to become the second carbon-neutral country in the world after Bhutan. To be considered carbon neutral, Costa Rica must balance all carbon emissions with removal efforts. They will be carbon-neutral when the country produces zero carbon dioxide emissions. And they are well on their way to doing that. In January of 2017, ten years after announcing the national goal, Costa Rica’s entire population of 4.9 million people ran on power generated by renewable energy for 75 consecutive days and nights.

As a carbon-neutral country, Costa Rica would be able to take in as much tourism traffic as possible and not negatively impact the environment at all. As the country continues to work on making infrastructure and transportation more environmentally friendly and sustainable, it appears they have tourism in mind.

Costa Rica’s efforts towards sustainable tourism should be a model for other countries, both big and small, to follow. Redirecting a large number of their national funds towards sustainable efforts has helped catapult them to one of the leading countries in the world in regards to sustainability. By incorporating sustainability into every aspect of the country’s makeup — from tourism to what is available or unavailable to citizens — Costa Rica has made sustainability one of its main pillars. So far that pillar is supporting the country quite soundly.

How to Be More Sustainable at Your Office Job

how to be more sustainableAs the environment becomes a hotter topic around the world, so does sustainability. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we have less than 15 years to significantly cut carbon emissions without causing irreversible damage to the planet. While the “we” in the special report released by the IPCC may sound global, it is not so. A report by The Guardian recognized that “just 90 companies cause[d] two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions” including Exxon, Chevron, and BP. While most of the responsibility to cut back on carbon emissions falls on corporations, every bit of sustainability counts.

For most people, there are two places they spend the majority of their time — at home and at work. Introducing sustainability into the home starts with a few simple steps. Actively recycling, taking more showers than baths, air-drying clothes in the warmer months, and installing a programmable thermostat are a few ways to start. Being sustainable at work can be more of a challenge. In your place of work, you don’t have control over the electrical usage, water usage, or the ability to enforce building-wide recycling initiatives. So how can you be more sustainable at your office job?

One of the best things you can do to be more sustainable at your office job is assessing how you consume while you’re at work.

There is room for improvement if you are constantly ordering food to be delivered or going out to get pick-up orders. You can make a huge environmental impact by bringing food from home in reusable containers. By bringing your own meals in containers that can be cleaned and used again, you cut down on carbon emissions and produce less waste. Some great containers that can be used to bring your lunch include Mason Jars and Tupperware. Both are durable, easy to clean, and can be used again and again instead of plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.

You can also look at how you stay hydrated. Are you going to the fridge for a bottle of water every time you’re thirsty? Or are you using a drinking glass and refilling it at the water fountain or tap? By using a glass that can be refilled instead of one-time-use plastic bottles, you’re able to reduce waste and work more sustainably. Most employers will supply dishware to their office workers; however, if you must bring a glass, or reusable water bottle, from home.

Another great way to be more sustainable at your office job is to monitor when your computer is powered on.

Do you find yourself rushing out of the office on Friday after a quick CTRL+SHIFT+DEL to lock your computer? You’re able to save quite a lot of electricity by taking the extra five minutes to save your programs and shut your computer down for the weekend. Powering your machine on and off once a week won’t do much damage. Lasting wear and tear would occur if you power your computer off every evening and back on every morning, so we don’t recommend that.

If you’re not too keen on completely shutting down your computer, even on the weekends, look into the system’s sleep options. Sleep will put your computer in low power mode while not turning it off. The Sleep options on most computers are located in the Shut Down menu.

Regardless of if you put your computer in Sleep mode when you’re out of the office or completely power it down, this is some of the easiest energy conservation you can achieve.

You can also make an environmental impact by shying away from using paper and using your computer for documentation.

Most of the time legal pads or Post-It notes are used for note-taking. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how many trees are cut down to make pads of paper. According to the Rainforest Action Network, anywhere from 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are cut down each year. Out of that number, almost 40% goes towards timber harvesting which includes papermaking. It was also recently reported that there is now more CO2 in the air than planting more trees can reduce.

Instead of using paper at your office job, consider turning to your computer for note-taking and other documentation. By not consuming accessive paper products, you can rest assured that you’re living a more sustainable life in your office.

These are just a few, easy ways that you can start to be more sustainable at your office job. Bringing indoor plants into the office will improve air quality. Recycling plastic bottles and cans whenever possible will also help the environment. There are a lot of great resources out there with more tips on how to incorporate sustainability into your workday.

One of the easiest to understand resources is this infographic from Greener Ideal. Try sending that out to your office, via email, to see how other people react to sustainability. If you can get more people on board, you can make some larger moves to create a sustainable office environment. Then it will be easier for everyone to be more sustainable at work.

At Number8, we have office locations in Louisville, KY, and Costa Rica. Both of these locations are working towards becoming more sustainable areas. Louisville is doing everything it can to become a more environmentally friendly city. One of the biggest efforts in the city is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050.  Costa Rica, on the other hand, is one of the most advanced countries in sustainability in the world. To learn more about what we do, how we stay sustainable, and how to join our team, contact us today!