Hotel Tropico Latino
Tripadvisor - Certificate of Excellence - 2016

It’s Not Easy Being Green ... But So Worth It!

Eco-hotel Tropico Latino in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica dedicates its operations to environmental practices and helping the community offset tourism’s impact on a pristine area.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Tourists from all over the world come to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica to enjoy the breathtaking pristine beaches, beautiful jungle and lovely tropical climate. While here, like all tourists everywhere, they generate trash from consuming items like food, drinks, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.

This is completely normal. But when this waste gets left where they vacation, and then the pattern is multiplied by thousands of tourists, do you ever wonder what happens to all of that trash?

In the case of small towns like Santa Teresa, which are completely dependent on tourism, the community has been forced to deal with the huge influx of solid waste, without much infrastructure or funding.

Luckily, organizations and people in Santa Teresa have stepped up to help.

Recycling Costa Rica
Community recycling program in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Photo by Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper.
Hotel Tropico Latino joins a group of concerned citizens who gather the town’s recycling on the first Thursday and Friday of every month at the Santa Teresa soccer field. The initiative began a few years ago led by Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper, a local NGO, the local government and the Santa Teresa tourism chamber.

“We accumulate all of our recycling during the month and then send two pickup trucks with all of the materials separated and organized,” said Tropico Latino hotel manager Roberto de la Ossa.

Recycling Santa Teresa
Recycling at Hotel Tropico Latino in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Hotel receptionist, Evelyn Gonzalez, and Yoga & Spa Natural owner Maria Quesada Vargas ensure that all recycling waste from special bins in Tropico Latino’s guestrooms, hotel offices and public areas is gathered and separated in a back area of the hotel, and brought to the recycling collection point every month.

“The effort is challenging and constant to keep on top of recycling,” said de la Ossa. “But this is a sustainable effort for the community, and it’s not a choice anymore in the world to recycle or not. We live and work here in this beautiful, natural place and we want to keep it that way.”

At the beginning of February, 1,190 kilos (2,623 pounds) of recycling waste was collected in Santa Teresa, instead of it going to the regional trash dump, according to the Waterkeeper organization. The top three items collected were glass, cardboard/paper, and plastic.

Recycling at the beach
Recycling in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Photo by Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper.
“The regional trash dump in Cobano is so overloaded that the local government supports any effort toward recycling,” said de la Ossa. In fact, the dump in Cobano has been condemned and ordered to be shut down for the last two years but remains in use.

All recycling collected in Santa Teresa goes to Molina Recycling in the Nicoya Gulf port town of Paquera, where it is distributed among private companies in Costa Rica that recycle these materials.

Eco Turism

Other Green Practices at Eco-Hotel Tropico Latino

Recycle kitchen waste. In Hotel Tropico Latino’s Shambala Restaurant kitchen, staff separate all waste into color-coded barrels which goes to recycling and other waste disposal. Cooking grease is collected in special bins for local company Viogaz, which uses a biodigester to turn the grease into cooking gas for the local Tourism Police precinct.

Composting. Organic waste is composted to become fertilizer for the hotel’s gardens.

Recycling at Costa Rica
Kitchen guide to recycling at Hotel Tropico Latino in Costa Rica.
Less plastic. “We use bamboo straws for smoothies and drinks in the restaurant,” said de la Ossa. Purchased from a vendor in Costa Rica, the cost is higher than plastic but the bamboo straws are biodegradable. De la Ossa said the hotel’s goal is to completely stop using disposable plastic like plastic bottles, straws, etc.

Biodegradable products. Hotel Tropico Latino uses only biodegradable soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents, and cleaning products throughout the hotel. “Nowhere in the hotel do we use anything that is not biodegradable,” explained de la Ossa. “That is a big key because there is a big volume of water leaving the hotel every day, between guests and cleaning.”

Microorganisms. They use microorganisms in hotel septic tanks to control odors, degrade waste better and be more efficient.

Energy efficient. The hotel uses energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.

Blue Flag Program. Hotel Tropico Latino supports the Costa Rican Blue Flag Program for Santa Teresa’s beaches through their $5 Checkout Program.

Eco-friendly Hotel Tropico Latino in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
If environmental conservation is important to you, keep up your practices wherever you go in the world by staying at hotels that responsibly deal with waste, water and energy, like Hotel Tropico Latino, voted No. 2 on TripAdvisor for hotels in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

As Gandhi so eloquently said: “We have to be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Article by Shannon Farley