Plastic free in paradise: Costa Rica has a plan

Costa Rica is set to become the first country to shed its reliance on plastic and move towards sustainable solutions

Home to majestic Scarlet Macaws, multiple active volcanos and 100% Arabica coffee, Costa Rica is planning to kick plastic out for good.

The Costa Rican government is to ban single-use plastics, such as straws, bags, cups and of course, plastic bottles, in an attempt to protect marine wildlife.

A long, green journey

But Costa Rica was not always so green; in the 1940s deforestation was a serious business. It destroyed up to two-thirds of the wild by the 1980s. Logs were sold and parts of the vacant land was used for agriculture. 

By 1996, The National Forestry Fund had highlighted how useful the natural forests of Costa Rica were in capturing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. As well as the forests protecting unique species of animals and flora, the fund demonstrated how they needed to be protected. 

Log cutting wound down and landowners were offered financial rewards to protect their land and encourage reforestation. 

Planet-friendly decisions have had a positive effect on tourism. Over a million tourists visit Costa Rica each year and according to the Embassy, “80% of all visitors to the country come to do eco-tourism related activities”.

The country has taken the initiative seriously and from 2015, 98.53% of the electricity used in Costa Rica came from renewable energy – solar, wind and hydropower.

Costa Rica is in good company. Neighbouring Nicaragua refused to sign the Paris climate change agreement until 2017, claiming that the stipulations of the document did not go far enough in preventing a climate catastrophe. 

Sustainable startups

Besides the action taken by the Costa Rican government, businesses are also working to do their bit to bring down carbon dioxide levels. 

Green Cloud

The Green Cloud platform works to help sectors reach carbon neutrality. 

It prioritises the Paris Climate Change Agreement as the pedestal for all companies to reach. The company also seeks to help others make the necessary changes in their business to meet this global goal

Green cloud has a global approach to decarbonisation, with clients not just in Costa Rica, but across 16 countries – and it’s growing.

@iGreenCloud

Materiales Ambientales, Ecologicos

Sustainable building materials mill, Materiales Ambientales Ecologicos (M.A.E), works to “be a leader in finding sustainable solutions in a competitive market”.

The startup promotes the use of bamboo as a building material, due to its “abundant, light weight [and] strong” properties. 

Costa Rica has the widest range of bamboo in Central America, with different lengths and widths, giving the plant a lot of possibilities Bamboo is a grass which can be harvested every 3-5 years in Costa Rica.

Through policy and innovative start-ups, Costa Rica hopes to show the world that a plastic-free world is possible. 

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.