One of the reasons Ellen and I are staying on the farm is to learn about self-sustainability and how it works in a climate such as this. After travelling, we’d love to educate others about ways to maximize their quality of life while minimizing the resources they use.

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Ellen learns to turn old glass bottles into drinking glasses

One thing we’re struggling with, though, is people’s resistance to new ideas, especially those that require extra work or a change of habit. I’m sure we’ll find plenty of hippy farmers in BC who would love to hear how Costa Ricans make natural insect repellents from wild mountain herbs, but those people are already working toward sustainability. What about those people who can’t be bothered learning about conserving resources? Will there ever be an opportunity or a way to reach them?

Among the people I’ve met here, staying on the farm, there have been a few who refuse to sort their garbage and recycling, even when specifically told to do so, because it shouldn’t be their problem. Several volunteers have objected strongly to the water-saving composting toilets because they feel the concept is icky. One person didn’t see why we objected to him fiddling with and zipping together the cable ties, because they weren’t expensive to buy. He didn’t understand or particularly care that they were only rarely available in town, two hours away, and they might be needed to repair critically important tools.

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Construction here uses local wood and repurposed materials rather than store-bought supplies

These are people who actually chose to travel to an out-of-the-way small farm in a remote area in Costa Rica. They are budget travellers who are used to making do with limited resources. If we can’t make them understand conservation and sustainability right here, where its impact is so obvious, what hope do we have at home where people take their luxurious standard of living for granted? And how can we share these effective, simple tips we’re learning about lessening our environment impact, without seeming like or becoming obnoxious critics of the excesses of North American and European society?

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