John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

April 2019 Howler Magazine Editorial:  Protect Our Planet, Honor Our

As I sit in the airport waiting to pick up friends or family members, it’s typical to hear the loudspeaker greeting repeated many times. Arriving visitors are welcomed to Costa Rica and urged to respect the environment: Please enjoy, but do not take. I took particular notice of the direction not to take seashells. It made me ponder the times we have traveled to beaches around the world and thought nothing of picking up a seashell and taking it home as a natural souvenir. I have since come to appreciate that such a small individual action affects the environment in a big way.

During my years of living in this country, I have come to better respect the reasons for not messing with the environment. I refer to Costa Rica as the little gem in the big world. We all need to do our part to keep this place as pristine as we can.

April, being Earth Month in many parts of the world, is the ideal time for bringing environmental issues to light. But it should not be the only time of year we are conscious about our planet. The issues being highlighted this month remain important all year round. As many Howler readers are either expats living in Costa Rica, or tourists seeking an adventurous getaway, I want to take this opportunity to point out some of the important environmental challenges facing people who have made their home here or are just visiting.

I refer to Costa Rica
as the little gem in the big world.


Trash is always problematic here, both along roadsides and on beaches. Without proper waste management, everything thrown away has the potential to end up in our inland waterways and oceans, affecting wildlife habitats and our quality of life as well. Visually, this situation is ugly; it is also potentially dangerous to our health. Fortunately, many groups have been aggressively attacking this issue: Flamingo Beach Association, ADI in Tamarindo, Rastra Recycle in Playas del Coco and Recycle Hermosa are just a few in the Pacific coast area. I know that is only a handful of the organizations doing their part, and you should be aware there are many more I did not mention here by name. I am also very encouraged by the early success of Costa Rica’s new nationwide ecolones program to promote recycling, within a short time of its introduction during Earth Month 2018. We have an introduction to ecolones in this issue (flip magazine cover story) and will continue to write about this promising initiative as it expands and gains traction. It’s another example of the Howler being a platform to inform readers how to get involved in your communities to better them.

Working on our April magazine also means Semana Santa is just around the corner. This is a time of year when many of Costa Rica’s coastal areas are inundated with crowds seeking to enjoy the beaches. We see the impact when too many of those visitors leave piles of trash behind. Please don’t be one of them. Make sure to pick up, pack up and properly dispose of your trash after enjoying the day wherever you are. It can save the lives of animals and also honor the reputation that Costa Rica has built as a green country.

The enforcement of measures to protect our planet is on all of us as citizens of the world. This is our earth and our environment. Be a good guest and leave no footprint. Make our world a better place in all aspects.