So as I was on my way back to Costa Rica after a vacation needed following the tour I just ended with The Crystal Method … this phrase came to me again “No hay Dios en plastico” meaning “there is no God in plastic”.
There is nothing spiritual or godlike about the abusive and negligent way we use the world today. Considering that Costa Rica is home to the spiritual waters and catch phrase “Pura Vida” (the Pure Life) and probably home to many religious followers …I just want to remind everyone that there is no god in plastic (or poisons i.e. pesticides etc).
Photo via Len Langevin
Why would I think that? … Well contrary to belief … Costa Rica is not without it’s pollution problems. I have had people tell me “well I thought Costa Rica was on the forefront of environmentalism” and I will say back “is that what you read?”. What we read is not always the case. Although I believe Costa Rica has the best intentions … I feel that it is difficult to manage anything large even if this is considered a small country. Let’s consider Costa Rica as L.A. county plus Orange County, that’s still a lot of ground to cover.
So one of the main things I have seen as a recurring problem everywhere in the world is the use of plastics. We are choking in disposable plastics. We have known of the ill effects of soda 6 pack rings at least since the 1980’s when I can remember even as a child the counter-marketing by environmental organizations against such packaging. Thankfully for that education, to this day I cut the rings if I see them and a pair of scissors are handy or I simply use all womanly bicep power to rip them apart if I am just out and about. Currently there is a continent size plastic stew in the Pacific Ocean. Plastic, never breaking down, is getting into our food supply via fish that mistakenly eat it …
Plastics are a deeper problem for me personally. I see Western culture spreading its tentacles across the globe exporting the bad habit of disposable mentality across this fine Earth. We cannot afford to do that –well, not for the sake of the generations ahead of us, which I think so often, people lose sight of in the fast paced, disposable society we live in.
So it is here in Costa Rica where I see disposable plastic bags used everywhere and I want to cry out and tell people “NO!” …yet I don’t … not like that. Instead I am formulating a plan I can roll out with different partners on how to best educate the people … make them realize for themselves that they do not want plastic bags blowing down their roads … how it is unacceptable to see any sort of trash on their beach.
And although their phrase is Pura Vida … the pure life should mean a life of no worries because the country-people are stewards of their land and gracious for the life it gives to them. What I seem to see are exported Western traditions which are given no thought, just followed. I see the use of pesticides. I see mercury filled CFL’s thrown in the trash because there is no infrastructure to recycle them, or no how even if it existed. I just see “the push” of Western culture upon this nation. I see a country sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, the one-time-use King.
Don’t’ get me wrong, there are many wonderful and beautiful aspects of this country. It is a country filled with good intentions. I just think that for a place that hold 5% of the biodiversity of the entire World … it is worth worrying about …worth scheming on how to explain how precious they are. Sometimes I just feel like Costa Rica (like other third world nations I have visited) are kids with no concept of self-worth. I hope to show them better and at least steer on a large scale, the concepts of sustainability and harmony with the environment.
Via Surfrider Foundation
Single-use plastic bags represent one of the greatest environmental catastrophes of our generation. It is estimated that 60-80% of all debris in the ocean is plastic. Plastics take hundreds of years to break down at sea and most types never truly biodegrade. As a result, marine animals often get entangled in the debris or mistake it for food. In Oregon (and the world!) the very first volunteer beach cleanup was held in 1984 under the title "Plague of Plastics", calling historical attention to the rise of plastics in our oceans and on our beaches. Around 100 billion petroleum-based plastic checkout bags are used each year in the United States, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year. Sadly, less than 5% of these bags are recycled each year and cities, counties, and non-profit organizations must pay millions of dollars each year to clean up plastic litter.
For these and other reasons, the Portland Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation supports a 20 cent fee (or ban) on single-use plastic bags within the City of Portland. Such an ordinance is needed to prevent marine debris, save money, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. And, the fee must be sufficiently high to shift consumer behavior and produce the desired conservation outcomes. Many other cities have taken similar action recently including San Francisco and Oakland which both recently passed ordinance bans on plastic bags.