A Carbon Neutral Vacation
Right now, traveling is faster, easier and more popular than it has ever been. However, as tourists flock to beautiful locations all over the world (like Costa Rica!) the negative environmental effects leave people wondering how they can possibly have a carbon neutral vacation and promote sustainable tourism by reducing their carbon footprint.
What can you do to make your upcoming Costa Rica vacation carbon neutral?
Costa Rica’s beautiful biodiversity along with the celebrated “pura vida” lifestyle draws in almost 2 million tourists a year. Luckily, Costa Rica is committed to sustainability and ecotourism (“responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”), making it the ideal location for tourists seeking an adventure-filled carbon neutral vacation.
“Carbon neutral” means to make no net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, especially through offsetting emissions (by planting trees, for example). There are many ways you can make your next vacation to Costa Rica carbon neutral.
Follow the steps (and links!) below to enjoy an incredible, environmentally-friendly Costa Rica vacation.
With 20,000 planes carrying 3 billion passengers annually, flying is the biggest culprit when it comes to the size of your carbon footprint. However, there are a few different ways to offset the effects flying has on the environment. Follow these steps to make your next vacation carbon neutral!
Buy carbon offsets
One of the best ways to have a carbon neutral vacation is to buy carbon offsets. Carbon offsets allow you to make up for the carbon dioxide released into the air during your flights by investing in tree-planting or other activities that take carbon dioxide out of the air.
- Purchase offsets directly through your airline. JetBlue, Delta and United offer the option to purchase carbon offsets for your flights.
- Calculate your carbon footprint and offset it through the Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal in Costa Rica.
- Research and purchase offsets. Follow the link here to read more about choosing the best offsets to shrink your carbon footprint.
Reduce the number of flights your take
- Taking off and landing produces 25% of all airplane emissions. Fly as direct as possible.
- Flying coach may not have as much leg room as business or first class, but what you lose in leg room you make up for in carbon emissions. Your carbon footprint from the first class seat is 9 times that of coach. It is much more difficult to be a carbon neutral tourist in first class!
The hotel industry spends around $3.7 billion a day on energy every year. An average hotel room consumes up to 218 gallons of water per day. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing accommodations committed to sustainability.
Look for hotels with ISO 14001 and/or LEED certifications
- ISO 14001 and LEED certifications are internationally recognized environmental management systems designed to regulate water efficiency, waste management, pollutant control and energy conservation.
- ISO 14001 and LEED certified hotels in Costa Rica include:
Look for hotels with the Certificado para la Sostenibilidad Turistica (Certification for Sustainable Tourism)
- The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) is from the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism. It grades different businesses based on their commitment to sustainability.
- CST certified hotels and hostels in Costa Rica include:
Ask your hotel or hostel about their sustainability practices. Do they have recycling program? Do they use solar, wind energy? What do they do to conserve water? Are the staff locally hired? Are hotel resources and amenities purchased locally? Do they make any attempt to be carbon neutral?
After you choose your carbon offsets and select lodging committed to sustainability, you can follow these simple steps to really make your vacation carbon neutral:
Unplug, turn off and conserve
Turn off light switches, air conditioning and unplug all devices when you leave the room. Close the blinds to conserve cool air.
Reuse, reduce, recycle
If you practice “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” at home, why wouldn’t you on vacation? Make sure to keep waste to a minimum, take short showers, reuse linens, and ask hotel staff about their recycling program. Avoid plastic by bringing a water bottle and drinking locally filtered water.
Choose environmentally-friendly activities
Look for activities that do not leave a large carbon footprint behind. Hiking, wildlife watching, surfing, yoga and relaxing on the beach are just a few examples!
- Use marked hiking trails to avoid damaging the native flora. Bring a small bag to pick up any litter you find along the way.
- Book tours through CST certified businesses