Reserva Conchal a Role Model: Eliminating Single-Use Plastic Initiative Takes Off- JUN 28, 2019
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Reserva Conchal a Role Model: Eliminating Single-Use Plastic Initiative Takes Off . Articles in several recent Howler issues have urged for wider and deeper consciousness about consumer use of plastics and the environmental ramifications. The same message is conveyed in heartbreaking videos of plastic straws being dislodged from turtle’s noses or the pumped stomach contents of birds containing plastic pieces. We’ve also seen jarring images of people swimming in a sea of plastic.
Single-use plastics such as drinking straws, beverage bottles and take-out food containers are among the most serious eco-contaminants on earth. Although it is a personal choice for individuals not to purchase or use these items, the need to eliminate single-use plastics rests on larger organizations and businesses doing their part.
Groups from a wide cross-section of commercial and community interests in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province have joined forces to do just that. On May 31, 2019, they gathered together in Tamarindo as a show of unified support for the Guanacaste libre de plástico de un solo uso (Guanacaste free of single-use plastic) initiative. Representing all 11 cantons of Guanacaste, various government agencies, residential and commercial developments, tourism chambers, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs voiced their commitment towards eliminating plastic straws, bags and utensils.
Reserva Conchal has not only eliminated 12,000 plastic stir sticks per month, but also adopted a green alternative to discarding the wood sticks
Reserva Conchal has been taking a lead role, even before this campaign was official. At its Beach Club, and at the on-site Westin and W Hotels, the use of single-use plastic continues to diminish while relevant eco-conscious education extends to resort guests, residents and employees alike. When restocking supplies, Reserva Conchal tries to purchase items that can be reused or recycled, or made from biodegradable products.
The company has replaced bottled water with water fountains around the property, encouraging guests, residents and employees to use refillable containers. By replacing plastic bottles with cans or glass and offering refillable water options throughout the property, the resort replaced 7,847 plastic bottles in just four months.
Reuse or refuse
The restaurants at Reserva Conchal have replaced all takeaway food containers with compostable ones. The retail stores are replacing all plastic bags with paper ones.
Another objectionable, but often overlooked, example of single-use plastics are the stir sticks used for coffee and tea. By replacing these with wooden sticks, Reserva Conchal has not only eliminated 12,000 plastic stir sticks per month, but also adopted a green alternative to discarding the wood sticks as trash. Now a component of the extensive in-house waste management system (highlighted in a May 2019 Howler article), these wood sticks are composted with other soil-enhancing ingredients for use throughout the property.
Reserva Conchal also recently implemented its own campaign inviting guests in the Beach Club and both hotels to “refuse the use of straws” with their beverages. Not only has there been a drastic decrease in straw consumption — from 40,000 to 14,400 straws per month — but all of the straws currently used are either metal or biodegradable.
Small changes, big gains
Even the seemingly small changes in single-use plastics consumption at Reserva Conchal have made a huge difference to environmental education. Employees and residents now go home and use their reusable bottles and their own containers for take-out food. Guests return home with a new understanding of the value of saying, “No straw, please.” Reserva Conchal’s waste center is seeing a huge decrease in the amount of non-biodegradable plastic that staff members have to package up for landfill.
The future is ours
As more promising examples like this emerge for us to follow, it becomes easier to make a difference and see results sooner. With each initiative — from the cantons of Guanacaste collectively to the individual guest at Reserva Conchal — we all have a choice and an opportunity. The decision to eliminate single-use plastics on earth and in our waterways lies on each of us, whether we are at home, running a business or visiting a new place. To actively choose to eliminate single-use plastic helps our earth to become cleaner and safer for us all. Will you join the initiative and refuse that straw or bring your own bags or takeaway containers?
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