Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Hi earthlings, Sarah here.
If you’ve been following Lexi and I for the past few years you know we both love to travel! There’s really nothing more amazing and special than meeting new people, learning new cultures, and exploring our beautiful planet.
One thing we’ve both learned while travelling is that keeping our zero waste lifestyle can be difficult.
We are very lucky to live in a place where we have proper waste management systems and access to things (like zero waste stores) that make living zero waste easier because this isn’t the case everywhere. I just recently got back from Costa Rica and thought I’d share my trip and zero waste travel tips with the eco-fam!
Let me start off by saying Costa Rica is such a special place and my heart is so full. CR is not only beautiful and filled with the most amazing people but a place filled with so much love for our planet and all of its animals.I travelled with my fiancee and 4 friends. We rented one vehicle which we used to get from village to village. We were mindful of where we stayed, picking a place that was walking distance from the beach or main strip.This way we didn’t need to use the car once we were in a new town…
turns out, the best method of transportation was our own two feet!
Almost every place we stayed (Airbnb’s and hostels), had proper waste disposal with garbage, compost, and recycling. When ordering a drink or coconut, no plastic straws were ever offered or used. Although I had my own reusable straw that I used, for those without. I was so happy to see only paper straws or bamboo straws being offered at the majority of restaurants and cafes.
I did find that bringing my own cutlery and container came in handy for leftovers as many places did use Styrofoam takeout containers and plastic utensils.
Bringing my reusable cup was also great for times I wanted to walk around with my smoothie or coffee. My Lifestraw bottle was also an important item to bring. Although most of the places we stayed had filtered drinking water, there were some restaurants that didn’t and only offered bottled water.
I never left our place without my backpack, not only was it good to keep all my reusables but it also worked great as a bag when stopping at a fruit stand or grocery store. I have to be honest though, I did make some garbage, most of it coming from prepackaged snacks when travelling from place to place… my obsession with plantain chips was a problem! I definitely carried some guilt with the garbage I made.
I tried to reuse what I could and make sure things were disposed of properly.
Costa Rica is a place where you can always find something to do. I found it so easy to fill my time with active earth friendly activities. Hiking, surfing, swimming, and yoga were my go-tos. In La Fortuna the waterfall and volcano were definitely earth beauties worth seeing. Monteverde is where we hiked through the Cloud Forest. The trees, greenery, and sounds of the birds made me fall in love with our planet all over again. Santa Teresa, Samara, and Nosara are the cutest beach towns filled with sur
fing and yoga. I did the MOST amazing yoga class at a yoga studio in Santa Teresa called Pranamar. Surrounded by trees and the sounds of nature… It was exactly what my body and mind needed. Samara, my favourite stop, is where I learned to surf! Elder and Dorian at Pato’s Surf School were the greatest teachers. I mean, I was actually up and surfing! Best part was I was able to use the board any time I wanted for the next 5 days. While in Samara we stayed in a cute family oriented hostel called Hostel Samara. Hostel Samara was filled with the loveliest staff and had everything we needed. The shared kitchen was perfect for cooking meals and making snacks but best of all was their COMPOST bin!
Basically what I'm trying to get at is that you can still have a blast and do fun activities without having a negative impact on the planet. The best times I had on my vacation were in nature without disturbing the peace of any animals or harming our home.
Being plant based can be difficult when travelling, however in Costa Rica it was easy. The airport was really the only place I found it difficult to get plant-based food that wasn't packaged. Aside from the airport, Costa Rica has a wide variety of plant based options (I mean duh, it's in a jungle).
Something that is really important to both Lexi and I when travelling is supporting local businesses.
We avoid multi-national corporations like Starbucks or McDonalds and opt for amazing mom and pop shops (which are called Sodas) to put our money into Costa Rica's economy. Plus, it's a great way to meet locals and find the BEST food. One of my favourite spots was in Santa Teresa called Luv Burger… I’m drooling just thinking about it. I ordered their popular Coco Bacon Burger, and let me just say, it's a must try!
Now let's talk bathrooms. First thing to know about toilets in CR is that NOTHING (including toilet paper) is to be flushed down the toilet. So what does this mean? BIDETS baby! I was very excited about this, however my fellow travellers were a little hesitant. But it only took that first try before everyone was on board with the bidet, I even caught a couple of them looking into getting a Tushy bidet for home.
The Diva Cup (sorry boys) was also great for the “no flush” rule.
I highly recommend the Diva Cup when travelling, not only is it so much better for the environment but it’s great for days at the beach or those long travel days.
I travelled with my Lush shampoo and conditioner bars and my Drunk Elephant face wash bars. These are definitely great alternatives to buying travel size soaps in plastic. However, if bar soaps aren't for you, another great alternative is to invest in a couple 100ml reusable squeeze bottles… or reuse ones you already have!
I have to say, I am fully in love with Costa Rica, its people, its culture, and its wildlife. It’s a place that works hard to be eco-friendly. This trip left me feeling inspired and motivated to keep living my best zero waste life. Our planet is full of so much beauty that needs to be protected. Costa Rica, thank you for all that you have given me. I cannot wait to go back!
So, if you're travelling to Costa Rica or ANYWHERE in the world, remember this "Zero Waste Travel List" to keep your waste low and have a positive impact on our planet.