If you google “the happiest country in the world,” you know what you’ll find, right? Costa Rica, of course! Everybody loves Costa Rica. Visitors love it, expats like us who come here and never leave love it, and Costa Ricans love it. Because we all love Costa Rica, those of us who live here are dedicated to taking care of it. We’re glad that the rest of the world has noticed how happy we are, but we’re proud to be at the top of the line-up of countries dedicated to becoming free of single-use plastics, and we’re proud that for 4 years in a row we’ve been running on 98% clean energy.
Read between the lines: we love our environment and we’re dedicated to living in harmony with it. We also love sharing our beautiful home with the rest of the world and we want you to know how to help us keep it healthy and beautiful while you enjoy it. Here are some tips and ideas for how to have an environmentally-friendly vacation in the happiest country on the planet:
1.BRING OR BUY A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Single-use plastics are on the way out, but we still have them. Drink tap water, or buy water in jugs, not in individual bottles. The tap water in Costa Rica is safe to drink. Because of droughts in recent years, the mineral content is higher than what our bodies need, but the water is potable and will not give you anything dreadful like dysentery. After a meal in a restaurant, rather than buy a bottle of water to take with you, ask your server in the restaurant to refill your water bottle. Or use your Tamarindo vacation rental as a spot to fill up water and freeze for those hot days on the beach. The oceans and landfills thank you.
2. RECYCLE AS FREQUENTLY AS POSSIBLE
You may have read that last sentence and wondered why plastics would be in landfills and not recycling centers. The answer is that some are, and some aren’t. Costa Rica’s recycling programs vary widely in their scope according to the region, and here in Tamarindo we are on the (literal) edge of a very rural area. Join us in doing the best we can with what we’ve got and recycled what you can every time you have the chance. If you travel around the country, recycling options will vary depending on where you are. Fill up those recycling bins!
3. PRETEND YOU HAVE TO PAY THE ELECTRIC BILL
Seriously. Not to go all Mama Bear on you or anything, but if you care about the environment at all, one way to show it would be not running the air conditioner in your Tamarindo vacation rental with the door open. Just saying. Yes, we know you’ve paid top dollar to live in luxury for a week, but running the air conditioning with the doors and windows open is not cool. So to speak. Turn the lights off when you leave—at least most of them. Shut the doors and windows. Turn off the fans. Turn back the air conditioning.
And do we seriously mean you’re supposed to go to all that bother while you’re on vacation? Um, yes. We do. Please. Not because you’re responsible for the electric bill. Because you are responsible for how you behave on the planet. No matter how much money you paid to be pampered.
4. GO LIGHT ON THE CHEMICALS
Think about how much chemical sunscreen the ocean is forced to swallow every day. Bottles of it. Imagine the insect repellents, lotions and cosmetic products going down the drain every time you take shower. Mother Nature says, “Yuck.” New Body Costa Rica makes a completely organic water resistant 50+ SPF sunscreen that stays on and works. Take it from a local surfer who can’t stay on land or in the shade! Google them and place an order.
Lots of stores where you live and here carry natural insect repellents, and of course, there’s nothing sketchy for the environment in good old aloe vera after you’ve given your skin a hard day.
BioLand is a Costa Rican company that makes organic personal products and foods. It’s safe to say any grocery store you visit in Costa Rica will have BioLand options among the shampoos, soaps, lotions and more. Pick some up to try during your visit and take some home to share the love.
5. COLLECT THE TRASH; LEAVE THE SHELLS
Now there’s an idea. Take a little bag to the beach and collect things the beach doesn’t need instead of things it does need—like shells! Removing seashells from Costa Rica is illegal anyway, so if they are discovered in your luggage on the way out, they will be removed by the authorities and returned to where they belong. Hopefully, you won’t find a lot of obvious garbage on our beaches, but little pieces of plastic, straws, bottle caps, and cigarette butts are everywhere you look if you pay attention. Collect them and put them in the trash where they belong. It’s amazing how good such a small deed can make you feel. Heck, you might leave here one of the happiest people on earth, yourself.
6. TELL THE PERSON WHO SELLS YOU A COCONUT ON THE BEACH THAT YOU DON’T NEED A STRAW
Buy the coconut—they’re delicious and so good for you! But tell the person who sells it to you that you don’t need the straw, even if it’s just a paper straw. Seriously. A straw for drinking from a coconut? Come on. Live a little. Put that puppy up to your lips and drink it the way the squirrels do. Get back to nature. It’s a coconut, not a cocktail. There is no way you need a straw.
7. SUPPORT LOCAL AND ORGANIC BUSINESSES
We know a sandwich from Subway sounds safe and familiar, but Tamarindo is full of local businesses making fabulous locally-sourced food. Several Tamarindo organic markets that carry earth-friendly groceries and goodies, and if you’re here on Saturday morning, for sure don’t miss the Tamarindo Farmer’s Market. For more specific suggestions on organic eating, check out our October 2018 blog post called How to Be Healthy During Your Tamarindo Vacation.
8. SKIP THE PLASTIC SHOPPING BAG
Just in general. You do this at home, right? When you do your Tamarindo shopping, bring a reusable shopping bag or pick one up here. They make great souvenirs and gifts, too.
9. DON’T FEED THE WILD ANIMALS
We don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but it does bear mentioning. Birds, iguanas, raccoons, crocodiles…don’t feed them. Those silly blue jays with the little plumes on top of their heads are terribly cute and naughty, and it can be so much fun to feed them pieces of your breakfast or lunch—but don’t. It’s terrible for them and interferes with nature’s ability to feed them. And feeding crocodiles?! We sincerely hope you will not witness anyone doing such an absurdly counter-intuitive thing, but let’s just say it has happened. That creates a dangerous situation that continues to be dangerous for as long as the crocodile lives, so please—in the interest of your appendages and our children—do not under any circumstances feed a crocodile.
10. RENT A BIKE OR WALK
Depending on where your vacation rental is located, renting a bike can be a win/win for the environment and for the quality of your vacation. Tamarindo traffic at the busiest times of year can be bad for your blood pressure as you can spend longer than you think possible idling in a line waiting for your turn to get through tight-squeeze spots. Rent a bike and cruise on through. Pedaling is good for you, and who needs a car to get from one side of Tamarindo to the other? Save the rental car for grocery shopping and surf trips. Take the bike to breakfast or the beach.
Contact us with any questions! Pura Vida!
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