In 2016, Costa Rica took a huge step toward tackling climate change by running solely on renewable energy for over 100 consecutive days. A combination of hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal energy accounted for 99% of the Central American country’s electricity throughout 2016, and the country is now aiming for a whole year without fossil fuels in 2017.
Inspired by Costa Rica’s ecotourism and green living, we’ve put together a list of 6 simple, yet effective eco hacks for the travelling bodyboarder in an attempt to reduce our collective carbon footprint and to preserve the ocean.
Environmentally friendly wax
Sadly, the majority of surf wax brands consist of paraffin; a highly toxic compound, which is the final by product in the petroleum refining process. When the petroleum-based wax comes away from our boards it has a devastating effect on our beaches, reefs, marine life and other delicate ecosystems.
On this years’ trip to Costa Rica, our coach Matt Mave Davies swore by Eco Spotwax as an alternative to paraffin wax. Eco Spotwax is 100% ecological, non-toxic and made with renewable and organic materials. It is available at the Bodyboard Depot, and comes in a cold or warm water variety.
Ecological sun cream / sun block
Like surf wax, sunscreen is also destroying the ocean’s fragile ecosystems. Recent scientific evidence has surfaced showing just how harmful compounds in sunscreen can be for coral reefs. Oxybenzone is the offending chemical. While it’s effective at absorbing ultraviolet rays and protecting our skin from the sun, it is downright fatal to marine life. It’s estimated that a single drop of sunscreen in a body of water as large as six Olympic-sized swimming pools can harm coral. And we are slapping on far more than that – 14,000 tons ends up in the ocean annually!
Luckily, there’s an easy solution, invest in an ecological sunscreen and sunblock! Matt used Tom’s Natural Zinc throughout 6 weeks in Central America this year, and was very impressed with the product.
Visit a turtle sanctuary
Costa Rica is synonymous with the sea turtles, however, these majestic amphibians face an uncertain future with populations dwindling rapidly. Due to unsustainable egg poaching, industrial fishing, plastic debris in our seas, and the sale of turtle shell products, a number of specie are already on the Critically Endangered list!
Fortunately, there are a number of non-profit turtle sanctuaries and ecotourism projects in Costa Rica, working tirelessly to protect and relocate nesting eggs, rehabilitate injured turtles, clean beaches of plastic waste and educate the local communities. By visiting a turtle sanctuary, you’ll not only become an budding expert in sea turtles but your entrance fee and/or generous donation will go a long way in enabling these charities to continue their preservation work.
Refuse, Reduce, Recycle
Single-use plastic is everywhere in Central America – from drink bottles, cups and straws to plastic bags and food packaging. And unfortunately our oceans are full of it! There’s an ever increasing number of whales, turtles, and sea birds washed up on our shores with their stomachs full of plastic. An Orca found beached on the Californian coast last month had 32 undigested plastic bags in her stomach.
How to avoid single use plastic
- Bring a reusable water bottle. Free refills are available at our bodyboard camps
- In Central America, every drink is served with a plastic straw. Kindly request no straw when ordering “no pajilla por favor”
- Bring your own recyclable shopping bag
- Avoid heavily packaged foods
- Get in the habit of collecting any plastic litter off the beach as you exit the surf …every little helps!
Go meat free for a day
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon deforestation (grazing land and feed crops), which results in the extinction of over 130 plant, insect and animal species everyday. The meat industry is also responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is significantly more than the combined exhaust fumes from all modes of transportation.
The list goes on, but it needn’t be like this, and with Costa Rica’s abundance of exceptional vegan and veggie eateries, serving a myriad of mouth watering, energy filled dishes such as veggie burritos, coco-bacon burgers and falafel wraps, there really is no excuse!
Second to the meat industry, transportation releases a devastating percentage of carbon emissions into our atmosphere. So the next time you fly why not calculate your flight’s CO₂ footprint and offset the distance by donating to a renewable energy project. There are fantastic organisations like Climate Care that use your Carbon offsetting costs to fund climate and development projects. To date Climate Care have cut 20.6 million tonnes of CO2 and improved life for 16.5 million people.