Traveling to Costa Rica has been an eye opening experience for me. Personally, I have taken a lot out of the experience and have incorporated some of the knowledge obtained abroad back into my daily life here in the Bryant community. My behaviors regarding sustainable practices and coffee purchasing have both changed since returning to Bryant. Prior to this course, my knowledge in sustainability was limited. I believed that recycling was good for the environment, and would do so when recycling bins were easily accessible. I would also try to limit my use of plastic water bottles by using a refillable aluminum water bottle instead. Other than this, my knowledge was fairly limited. After all, I was a busy college student running from class to meetings to work. Sustainability was not something that was always on my mind. As far as coffee went, I would drink whatever coffee sounded like it would taste good, not paying attention to whether the packaging contained phrases such as “organic,” “sustainable practices,” “or “fair trade.”
Since arriving back at Bryant I must say that I am missing the Costa Rican coffee! After quickly drinking all of the coffee I brought home from Costa Rica, I have changed my coffee purchasing behavior. I now look for coffee that is labeled as either “fair trade” or organic. After seeing the sustainability practices in Costa Rica and how important (and sometimes simple) changes in industry practices can be, I feel that it is important to support companies that are participating in these responsible practices. Since returning from our trip my daily practices have changed regarding sustainability. Aside from being more knowledgeable on the subject, I also feel more passionate about it. I find myself interested in reading articles I see in the news about environmental issues or sustainability efforts, seeking out the information more often than I had prior to traveling. Although it’s difficult to practice sustainability living on a college campus, I’ve noticed my efforts to make small changes have increased. I now recycle daily, for example, and I will go out of my way to do so. I have almost completely cut out my use of paper and plastic goods (plates, cups, etc.), and no longer drink from one-time-use plastic water bottles. I find myself constantly turning off lights that are left on in my suite, and make a greater effort to be less wasteful. I’ve also had a change in attitude regarding the Bryant campus. There are so many environmentally wasteful things happening on this campus. After seeing some of the rather simple ways sustainability can be practiced throughout Costa Rica, I feel that the Bryant community can truly benefit from making an effort to increase sustainability on campus and by making students more aware of the issues at hand.