While in Costa Rica, I noticed how much we as a country, and even I personally, take for granted. Not only are we extremely wasteful in terms of our use of non-renewable resources, but our waste management and recycling programs simply aren’t working. In Costa Rica, their energy is almost completely generated by renewable resources, almost all businesses seem to either be sustainable, or on the way, and they are the first country to commit to being Carbon Neutral by 2021.
Since returning to the United States, I’ve made quite a few changes to my lifestyle to be more sustainable. I reuse my plastic water bottles, am constantly turning off the lights, and I’ve even resorted to wearing clothes more than once in order to cut down laundry loads. Going back to the topic of taking things for granted, I never really realized how lucky I am personally to have the things I have. I remember driving down some of the roads in Costa Rica and seeing houses built out of sheet metal. I’ve become so much more grateful for the things I have, and made sure not to let any of it go to waste – I don’t even let myself leave food on my plate at our dining hall anymore.
The thing that made the biggest impact for me personally was the happiness that every single person we came into contact with exuded. Being the happiest nation in the world, I expected to see smiles and some friendliness upon our arrival. However, the Ticos were so incredibly friendly and helpful that it was contagious. So building off of some of the other changes I’ve made sustainability-wise since I’ve returned from the country, I’ve also tried to change my general outlook towards others. I noticed that smiling for no reason causes others to smile, doing favors for others really does make a difference, and even though I’m just one person I know that between my changes in sustainability, our efforts to spread the word, and giving ample kindness towards others I can make a difference.
I miss every single thing about Costa Rica. We learned so much as a group that I’m sure none of us will ever forget. I’m proud to say I now feel like an expert to all things coffee related.
The delicious coffee, beautiful sights, warm air, and the absolute abundance of nature everywhere are all things I think about daily. I honestly can’t wait to return. And I sincerely hope countries like our own can follow in Costa Rica’s footsteps.
Pura Vida Everyone!
By Steph Lemire