Before leaving for Costa Rica, I found myself bragging to my family and friends about the trip I was about to go on. I told them how I was going to study the sustainability of the coffee industry. However, when people asked what sustainability was, my response was brief. Quite honestly before this trip, I had hardly any idea what sustainability was and what a major impact in played in people’s lives all over the world. Now, a month later, I can honestly say this trip was the best and most life changing experience of my life.
Before going abroad, I considered myself a fairly “green” person. My family recycles, I’m aware of how much water I use, and I try and shut the lights off whenever I leave my room. After visiting various coffee producers and farms, it makes me realize how much energy myself and others around me waste every single day. When we visited Rancho Margot it really put my energy use into perspective. On the ranch, they waste absolutely nothing. Whether it is the oil from the kitchen, soap in the shower, or leftover food, every little bit is used again and again to help sustain the environment. When I think of my life at Bryant compared to the farmers at Rancho Margot it makes me realize how much more I can do to be more sustainable. After returning from Costa Rica, I have been more conscious of how much I throw away. I try not to buy as much food and soaps so they will not go bad and I don’t have to throw them out at the end of the semester.
I also have become more aware of how much electricity my suitemates use. We usually keep all the bathroom and common room lights on all night. However, now the last person to go to bed shuts them all off. We also try not to leave the TV on when we fall asleep or we set a timer that way it is not on all night. When we visited El Establo hotel, the manager made this great comparison. He said, “Imagine having a bank with only 1 cent in your account, that isn’t much. However, if you take millions of people with 1 cent in their account, you have a great deal of money. This is just like sustainability. If everyone does a little piece, when it is multiplied together you get a major impact.” I know the changes I have been making are small, but if everyone made these simple changes, it’s amazing how sustainable our country and the world could be.
I have learned so much from my time in Costa Rica. I met some of the nicest people and had some of the best experiences of my life. I can only hope to go back one day, and that others can be fortunate enough to have the same experience I had.