Sustainability Starts With Coffee

In recent years, nations all over the world have been taking initiatives towards a greener, more sustainable world. Costa Rica has risen to this challenge, currently 2nd behind Switzerland in the World Energy Council’s global “environmental sustainability” ranking (Tico Times). They have taken initiates to preserve their country’s energy and forests. Seeing such a small Central American country make this change should be an inspiration for larger countries who have much more resources available to take these steps as well. Ticos, Costa Rican citizens, have great pride in their country and I think that contributes a lot to their willingness to focus on sustaining their country’s environment.

From an energy stand point, Costa Rica is striving to be the first “carbon neutral” country by 2021 (Tico Times). To be carbon neutral means the country would offset the amount of carbon dioxide produced. Tourism and other industrial plants would be issued a voluntary “tax” in which they can pay to mitigate the carbon dioxide they produce (Worldwatch). One ton of carbon dioxide would be valued at around $10 (Worldwatch). The Costa Rican government is promoting this initiative through biofuels, hybrid vehicles, and clean energy acts. Companies can offset their carbon use through capture and sequestration or paying to replant the forests that have been lost.

Ticos take great pride in the beauty of their country especially their lush forests. However, many of the small coffee farms that make up much of Costa Rica’s land lack that very same thing: trees. Throughout the 20th century Costa Rica lost almost 80% of its forests to farmland which they hope to get back. Currently, 30% of Costa Rica’s forests are part of nature reserves (Omega). Programs such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, which uses revenue from taxes to pay landowners to reforest the country with the goal of turning 60% of the country back into forests, are taking a step towards this goal (EarthShare).

Coffee is a major industry in Costa Rica so it is no surprise they are apart of this program. One such coffee plant that has taken a green initiative is Doka Estate Coffee. They have limited the use of pesticides and replanted trees on their land (EarthShare). Minimizing pesticides improves the health of their employees and planning trees provides a home for birds and other animals. During our stay in Costa Rica we will be visiting Doka Estates and I am eager to see the differences between their farm and the other, less forest friendly, farms we visit. Coffee grows best under shade I am curious as to why other coffee farms have not jumped on board the sustainability push yet. While at Doka I would know to find out if they have found any benefits or possible negatives related to the quality of their coffee beans since switching to more natural methods of farming. Coffee farms like Doka are well on their way to contributing to Costa Rica’s sustainability initiatives.

I am excited to have read of the initiatives Costa Rica has taken already to improve upon their sustainability platform, and I am eager to see it in action through the coffee industry while on this trip.


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