Is Your Cup of Coffee Saving the Planet?

Costa Rica is building a reputation to become one of the “greenest” countries in the world. That may seem like a hefty aspiration, but they’re steadily accomplishing that goal. They were ranked second, behind Switzerland, in the World Energy Council’s global environmental sustainability ranking (The Tico Times). When it comes to overall sustainability, Costa Rica focuses on three categories: environmental, economic, and societal sustainability. According to Anywhere Inc., Costa Rica has three main initiatives: “protect the environment and restore ecosystems,” “[allow] businesses and local economies to operate profitably in the present and into the future,” and “support social improvement and protect cultural identity.” These initiatives are truly admirable. But, how are they actively working to abide by them?

We have learned about how proud Ticos are of their own culture. This pride reflects the importance of societal sustainability in Costa Rica. Other important aspects of societal sustainability include education, health care, diversity, and human rights. We are traveling to Costa Rica to learn and explore in business and engineering concentrations. Surely, we see the value in their education system that is constantly improving. Also, the societal initiative incorporates the preservation of traditional Costa Rican characteristics. Costa Rica strives to preserve unique and traditional foods, dances, clothing, values, art, and music. Fortunately, I’m going to experience Costa Rican culture firsthand. That being said, I appreciate their efforts to protect their unique identity so that others can truly gain the Costa Rican experience.

Global warming and carbon emissions are two topics that appear frequently in the social and political sphere. Costa Rica has taken a stand against these matters. They plan to reduce their carbon emissions by making their coffee producers completely carbon neutral by 2021 (Daily Coffee News). Costa Rican coffee producers will now make a conscious effort to reduce/eliminate fertilizers that create nitrous oxide emissions, recycle water, convert mucilage (waste originating from plants) into reusable biomass, use the recycled biomass in production, and use shade trees that absorb CO2 (Daily Coffee News). This shift towards carbon neutrality will affect their economic sustainability, since coffee is a vital industry to their economy. Their environmental initiatives, mixed with their quality over quantity attitude, is the root of their economic philosophy that allows them to remain profitable and sustainable.

Additionally, Costa Rica is relying their electricity on renewable resources. In fact, 93% of its electricity is produced by renewable resources (Anywhere Inc.). Approximately 76% is generated from hydroelectric power, and roughly 18% is generated from wind power and other renewable sources (The Tico Times). For a country that’s roughly the size of West Virginia, that’s a huge infrastructural accomplishment. In my opinion, Costa Rica’s effort to conserve the environment, domestically and internationally, makes purchasing their delicious coffee that much easier. Even if there is literally an increased price to pay, the benefits to the global environment make the price tag worth it. As an avid coffee drinker, I don’t mind sacrificing the few extra bucks to support an eco-friendly industry and enjoy a cup of coffee that has unrivaled quality. Money talks, and if you invest it in something like Costa Rica’s environmental conservation efforts, you can make an impact that lasts a lifetime.


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