The Leaders of Sustainability

I’m Leanne Boody, a mechanical engineering student. During my first year in the engineering program, I became interested in the Plus3 program and more specifically the Costa Rica trip. Of course I had interest in experiencing a new culture and learning about the coffee supply chains, but to be honest the most exciting part of this trip for me is the banana plantations! Bananas are a huge part of my diet, and learning more about how they are sourced, processed, and delivered to us will give me a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into the delicious fruit. Besides providing us with bananas and coffee, Costa Rica has become a leader of sustainability.

With the current state of our planet, the discussion of sustainable living can not be more paramount. Costa Rica’s initiatives toward large-scale sustainable living, specifically the preservation of wildlife and the movement towards carbon neutrality, make them a role model for other countries. The negative effects humans have on the environment may not be completely reversed, but Costa Rican’s seem to have found a way to live amongst the Earth’s wildlife without destroying it. However, Costa Rica has not always interacted so harmoniously with the environment.

In the past 25 years, Costa Rica has doubled its forest cover in an effort to reverse the all time low in 1987. This is part of their initiative to preserve and protect the land. In addition, Costa Rica has made it a priority to run on renewable resources, moving away from the use of fossil fuels like petroleum. By 2025, Costa Rica is set to become completely carbon neutral, soon eliminating single-use plastics (by 2021). These two major initiatives don’t directly apply to coffee and bananas. However, agriculture in general is affected by these initiatives. Increasing forest coverage allows for more healthy produce to grow. For example, parasitic bugs can take refuge in the forest instead of overtaking crops, like bananas. Produce also often uses single-use plastics for packaging, therefore, changing these regulations causes an industry to rethink their process.

Upon researching Costa Rica’s initiatives towards more sustainable living, my view of the country has shifted. I had previously viewed Costa Rica as a destination for tourism. Now, looking at its progressive views on reducing plastic use to create a more sustainable lifestyle, I see Costa Rica as a leading nation. Their choice to act now to reverse the effects of fossil fuel use make them one of the first to implement such a radical plan. Hopefully, other nations will follow suit and work to preserve the planet’s resources as Costa Rica has.

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