A Commitment to Plastic Free Transparency

Note: This post is Part 3 of a report by Bodhi Surf School about how they are going plastic free. 

By Samantha Rose

We at Bodhi Surf School are attempting to make our journey as transparent and accessible as possible, which is why we are encouraging others to join our mission. It involves the process of reducing the prominence and abundance of plastic, and we want to do it carefully and steadily so that our changes are sustainable.

In other words, we do not want to simply buy new plastic-free replacements, get rid of our old plastic products, and call the mission complete. Revisiting our goals is an important step in this process.

Here at Bodhi Surf, our motivation for minimizing our plastic use is three-fold:

  1. to reduce our environmental impact, helping to preserve the oceans that we cherish, live by, and play in;
  2. to preserve the health of ourselves, our families, and our guests;
  3. to illustrate to other small businesses and individuals that reducing plastic consumption is an achievable goal, and inspire them to work together toward a more ecologically-balanced future.

Also read:
Part 2: Now What? A Post-Pledge Plastic-Free Commitment  |  Part 1: A Surf School Aims to Be Plastic Free

Purchasing products

In our last update, we suggested a simple question be asked to prioritize the replacement of plastic products. That question is: Does the use of this product affect our health?

Along with environmental impact reduction, our primary goal of reducing plastic is the health of Bodhi’s family and guests. We do not want to encourage people to use chemicals that can harm their health and that of our world. Thus, we decided to start by replacing any product that involves plastic touching our food or drinking water (cups, spatulas, cutting boards, electric kettles, butter dishes, etc.) However, finding quality products without plastic in Costa Rica has been a significant challenge.

For example, Bodhi Surf co-owner, Adrianne Chandra-Huff, recently purchased two glass juice dispensers in San Jose, which broke soon after she returned them home to Bahía Ballena. As more products are planned to be purchased when Bodhi Surf reopens in November 2016, Adrianne anticipates needing to buy from the United States, but is further researching local businesses that provide alternatives to plastic products.

Contest sponsors:

Klean Kanteen
United By Blue
Mafia Bags
Life Without Plastic
Jungle Mama
Blue Mind
Chasing Ice
Hari Mari

Education as motivation

We, the Coalición Bahía Ballena Libre de Plástico (Bahia Ballena Plastic-Free Coalition), wrote up a simple contract outlining the specific changes that businesses could make to reduce their plastic use and environmental harm. The 10 businesses signed a commitment to “using less plastic,” selecting which particular changes they would be able to uphold from the list below. The majority of the businesses agreed to:

  • use reusable bags
  • not use plastic straws
  • not place utensils in plastic bags
  • not provide bottled water
  • not use styrofoam
  • not provide plastic bags

In addition, five businesses agreed to provide alternatives to small plastic packages, such as ketchup and mustard, and four of the businesses agreed to not sell plastic-bottled drinks.

These numbers have the potential to translate into remarkable changes for the community of Bahia Ballena and Costa Rica as a whole. All of these changes are money-saving business strategies in addition to environmental-protection strategies. We are hoping to garner greater support from the local and global communities once we see these modifications implemented in the 10 businesses. When we can demonstrate that the changes are cost-effective, then we can provide increased incentive for other businesses to follow suit in transitioning to being plastic-free.

During the summer, we hold workshops for Global Leadership Adventures Protecting the Pacific (GLA PTP) students. This summer, students viewed and discussed “The Plastic Age” documentary. Following the showing of this eye-opening film, students brainstormed ways in which they could reduce their plastic use. Some students even decided to work together to convince their high schools to stop providing plastic cups, plates, and utensils when serving cafeteria lunches! All of these students have signed the Ocean Guardian Pledge and will be receiving our Ocean Guardian Digest.

Next month, we will be holding an info session with Geoporter for individuals and businesses interested in reducing their plastic use. During this meeting, people will learn how to conduct a plastic audit of their home or business based on the simple template that we used. We will also be providing contact information of other businesses in Costa Rica that offer alternative, plastic-free products.

Our hope is that these allies will become voices for a plastic-free lifestyle in Bahía Ballena and throughout the world.

Samantha Rose is writing intern at Bodhi Surf.

Photos by Travis Bays/Bodhi Surf 

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To Stop Plastic Pollution