Sustainable Initiatives in Costa Rica
Costa Rica was on my bucket list since I found out that 98% of its energy is renewable and it’s leading in carbon neutrality. For several years, Costa Rica has run on entirely renewable energy for 300 days per year. No other country this size has done this to that extremity and as a country nestled in the middle of Central America, it is quite impressive.
Hydropower is the main source of energy in Costa Rica, followed by geothermal and wind power. Together these three renewable energy sources make up most of the nation’s total energy production.
1. Arenal Lake
While hiking up the Arenal volcano, we overlooked the largest lake in Costa Rica. Our tour guide Raul from Jungle Tours explained how it was created by man to produce hydroelectric power. Also, it was created as a preventative if the volcano erupted again. Construction of the hydroelectric dam was completed in 1979 and it expanded the lake three times its original size.
2. Wind turbines and more wind turbines
We took a road trip through Costa Rica and were shocked by the number of wind turbines nestled on the top of the mountains where the wind was abundant. Los Santos Wind Farm has received the Gold Standard and provides 50,000 people and 10,000+ households in rural Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is producing so much renewable energy that it is now sold to other countries in Central America. Sustainability is not just about being eco-conscious, it also involves economic prosperity and from 2015-2019, it earned more than $180 million in sales from the surplus energy.
What other sustainability practices does Costa Rica do? In my experience, Costa Rica’s grocery stores are advanced in their sustainability practices.
1. Bottle Returns
Costa Rica does not have proper waste management for recycling but one way they have figured out how to encourage people to recycle is with bottle deposit. For glass bottles, you must pay a deposit that you can get back at a later time in exchange for the deposit back. It is approximately 600 Costa Rica Colons (0.97USD). The bottle is sent back to the manufacturer to be cleaned and used again.
2. No Plastic Bags
Since the beginning of 2021, Costa Rica has stopped delivering single-use plastic bags to Walmart, Mas x Menos, Maxi Palí, and Palí stores. You must purchase a reusable tote in order to bring your groceries home. This initiative was to reduce the environmental footprint and is a significant step.
These were just a few of the impressive initiatives that Costa Rica is taking for a sustainable future. I am looking forward to their progress in the future.