One of society’s most pressing issues today is climate change, the far-reaching effects of which include extreme weather, food shortages, and damaged ecosystems. In a survey of 12,000 peer-reviewed scientists, more than 97% said that climate change does exist and is at least partially caused by human activity.
Perhaps because of this, more people are fortunately incorporating conservation-minded practices into their daily lives, from eating plant-based diets to getting electric cars. A growing number of people also recycles in some capacity, and major businesses are encouraging their employees to lower their carbon footprints through public transportation programs and carpooling.
With so much growing awareness of how we can make a positive difference at home, though, why don’t we pursue the same practices when we go on vacation? After all, while vacations are often escapes from work and other stresses, they shouldn’t be escapes from our values.
Sustainable Ecotourism in Costa Rica
When you factor in air travel, water use, and many other features, travel can be very wasteful for the environment. Consequently, more and more conscientious travelers are considering sustainability when they make their travel plans. For example, another survey reveals that nearly a third of potential travelers would choose a destination based on how eco-friendly it was.
That’s why Costa Rica sees more than two million international travelers every year. Costa Rica has set aside a quarter of its total land area as national parks and runs entirely on renewable energy, mostly hydropower. The country has even set plans in motion to be completely carbon neutral by 2021.
Fittingly, Costa Rica is also a leader in ensuring eco-friendly travel options. The Costa Rica Tourist Board helps travelers find businesses that embrace sustainable practices through its Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program. This program identifies businesses making concrete efforts to reduce their carbon footprints through the smart use of resources, the planting of trees, educating their customers on the importance of sustainability, the use of biodegradable materials whenever possible, and a limit on the amount of waste they produce. Businesses displaying the CST logo have been certified by the Costa Rica Tourist Board and can be trusted to guide travelers keen to make green choices.
This means that no matter what you’re looking for on your vacation in Costa Rica, you can easily find a green option. If you need flights within Costa Rica and elsewhere in South America, for example, Nature Air transports travelers while minimizing and compensating for its effect on the environment. In 2004, Nature Air became the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.
All of this underpins Costa Rica’s awareness of its incomparably rich biodiversity, spread across volcanoes, beaches, and rainforests, so much of which travelers wish to connect with through mindful tours. Travel+Leisure produced a great list of eco-friendly tour operators and destinations in Costa Rica that you may want to check out. Some of the tours include visits to ecotourism highlights like the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Playa Ostional to watch the sea turtles, hiking in the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve and much more. Most eco-tour companies are equipped to offset any carbon emissions by planting trees, in addition to observing the sustainable practices that preserve Costa Rica’s biodiversity and rainforests.
Search for Sustainable Solutions
When researching where you would like to travel (whether you’re looking at Costa Rica or somewhere else), take the time to search for sustainable travel options that reduce your carbon travel footprint. Don’t hesitate to contact companies directly to learn more about their business practices and whether or not they are eco-friendly. It’s important to support businesses that maintain best practices because they further the country’s conservation efforts. If you are an independent traveler, you can opt for public transportation instead of renting a car, or pick a centralized location for lodging from which to walk or bike to surrounding attractions.
No matter where you go, consider the environment when making your decisions. Widespread ecotourism in Costa Rica and other countries can help you shore up efforts to be green, even when you’re on vacation. Remember: just because you’re on a holiday break from your normal routine doesn’t mean your commitment to sustainability should take a break as well.