When traveling to a tropical country such as Costa Rica we think about the indispensable things we need in order to have a pleasant trip, and to avoid inconveniences while we enjoy the volcanoes, the rainforest and/or the beach. Some of these are sunblock, insect repellent, raincoats, camera’s and many other of these kind of things. However, have you thought about what you can bring or what you can do in order to reduce the negative impact you might cause on the places that you are visiting?
Well, we believe it is very important to keep our impact as low as possible. Especially when we travel to natural areas that are susceptible to all kinds of pollution. Sometimes, even our steps on the trails can affect species of plants, insects and bigger wildlife of these natural areas. It is very easy to damage a plant or block the walking paths of mammals like tapirs or wildcats that can smell us from miles away (depending of the wind) and that might change their behaviour.
We know this is a very wide topic however, we believe a few recommendations and tips may help you to reduce this impact and help the communities and government institutions to protect their natural resources. Here are some of these recommendations:
- Learn about current environmental issues in the places you are visiting. Different regions will have different situations based on their ecosystems.
- Use water sparingly. Many communities face water shortages and water usage costs money. One small gesture you can make is to take quick showers.
- Carry a Reusable Water Bottle. If tap water is safe where you are traveling (like in Costa Rica), reduce your environmental impact abroad by avoiding bottled water and bring a reusable water bottle.
- Save electricity. Turn off lights, air conditioners, and heaters when you are not in the room.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Always try to use less – reduce. Recycle everything you can. In Costa Rica you can find recycling baskets at hotels, National Parks and many other places.
- Use local and public transport whenever possible. Take a train or public bus. Bike or walk.
- Buy Local, Eat Local. Rather than heading to a chain grocery or department store (where more energy is used to ship food further distances), stop by a local market or a street stand.
- Don’t litter! Even if you notice the locals doing so, try to find a container to dispose of your litter.
- Don’t buy products made from endangered species or valuable, historical, or cultural artifacts.
- Don’t disturb the wildlife. Maintain a proper distance at all times. Try to be quiet among small communities of people or in areas where there is wildlife.
- Don’t pick up and take home natural resources such as shells, plants, animal bones, etc.
- Choose your activities wisely. Low impact sports that don’t involve a lot of equipment or fossil fuels and that don’t disturb the environment or local communities are preferable.
- Use accommodations that have a reputation for being sustainable. Sustainability can mean many things: accommodations that recycle, use alternative forms of energy, are owned by or employ locals, contribute to local causes.
In Costa Rica we have the CST (The Certificate for Sustainable Tourism Program) which categorises tourism companies according to the degree to which their operations approach a model of sustainability in the management of natural, cultural and social resources.
We at GWA proudly represents the CST and have obtained level four (of five) on our last evaluation, we encourage our guests to practice sustainable tourism on their trips to Costa Rica.
If you want to get more information or tips for a sustainable trip in Costa Rica, you can send an e-mail to email@example.com
Some information has been adapted from www.yale.edu/yalecollege/international/sustainability/tips.html