Desechos y Reciclaje en Costa Ballena || Trash and Recycling in Costa Ballena

One group's recyclable materials, December 2015. Photo Credit: Melissa Rejeb

One group’s recyclable materials, December 2015. Photo Credit: Melissa Rejeb

¿A dónde va basura de Costa Ballena? ¿Puedo reciclar?

El Proyecto Calles Limpias, Aguas Limpias de Geoporter, ha estado mapeando la basura en las calles y  las playas desde el año 2012. Con esta información, las acciones han sido tomadas por varios negocios y organizaciones comunitarias para prevenir la basura entren en nuestras calles y en última instancia nuestros océanos.

Queríamos saber más sobre de dónde nuestra basura va y lo que ocurre con los materiales reciclables cuando son mezclados con la basura. Compartimos aquí lo que hemos aprendido de nuestro reciente viaje a la Municipalidad de Osa y el relleno sanitario, donde nuestra basura semanal va. Nosotros le enviaremos información actualizada en un futuro próximo.

Al final, le toca a nosotros para asumir la responsabilidad de los residuos que generamos. Podemos tomar medidas para reducir, reutilizar y reciclar.

Where does Costa Ballena Trash Go?  Can I Recycle?

Geoporter’s Clean Streets, Clean Waters Project has been mapping street and beach trash since 2012. With this information, actions have been taken by various community businesses and organizations to prevent trash from entering our streets and ultimately our oceans.We wanted to know more about where our garbage goes and what happens to recyclables when they are mixed in with trash. We share here what we learned from our recent trip to the Municipality of Osa and the landfill where our weekly garbage goes. We will send updated information in the near future.

In the end, it’s up to us to take responsibility for the waste we generate. We can take steps to reduce, reuse and recycle.

¿A dónde va mi basura?
El vertedero está justo al sur del puente en Palmar Norte. En 2016, hay planes para abrir una nueva relleno sanitario en la propiedad. Este nuevo centro estará cubierto y permitirá a la protección de los trabajadores contra el sol y lluvia.

¿Puedo reciclar?
Sí. Actualmente hay 3 familias que han recibido el permiso de la Municipalidad para separar los materiales reciclables de la basura, todos los días cuando la basura llega al sitio.

¿Debo separar mis materiales reciclables desde mi basura?
No es necesario. En el próximo año cuando el nuevo centro de recepción se ha abierto, Sí.

¿Por qué esperar hasta que este centro ha abierto? Debido a que las familias van a trabajar juntos cuando se abre el nuevo relleno sanitario. Actualmente trabajan para sí mismos, de recibir el pago de lo que recogen.

¿Qué se recicla?
Las botellas de vidrio, botellas de plástico y latas de aluminio se reciclan. El Municipio no tiene actualmente la capacidad de reciclar papel o cartón

Where does my trash go?
The landfill is just south of the bridge in Palmar Norte. In 2016, there are plans to open a new receiving station on the property. This new center will be covered and will enable the workers protection from the sun and rain.Can I recycle?
Yes. Currently there are 3 families that have received permission from the Municipality to separate recyclable materials from the trash, daily when the trash arrives on site.

Should I separate my recyclables from my trash?
It is not necessary. In the coming year when the new receiving center has opened, Yes.

Why wait until this center has opened? Because the families will be working together when the new center opens. Currently they work for themselves, receiving payment from what they collect.

What is recycled?
Glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans are currently recycled. The Municipality does not currently have the capacity to recycle paper or cardboard.

More details here    ||    Más detalles aquí

A look at our year in 2014

We’ve closed the doors on 2014. Where has it gone? Geoporter has been busy in Bahía Ballena and beyond! Funds and support from our 2013 Indigogo campaign, from providing community-based geospatial education experiences to 230 students from 16 different groups, and from a new from a collaboration with the Woods Institute at Stanford University provided us with a little under $15,000 to help us achieve the following in 2014:

TaniaLuzGeoporter Assistants:  We provided stipends for two local community members to assist the Geoporter Director, allowing Amy to focus on tasks to grow and expand Geoporter. These two Assistants, Luz Badilla and Tania Calderon, have been working approximately ten hours per week since June. They are a wonderful asset to Geoporter, spearheading the day-to-day operations of the “Clean Streets, Clean Waters” and the “Participatory Whale Monitoring” projects. They are also helping with outreach to the community, while stepping into leadership roles and becoming Geoporter instructors at community-based trainings.

LuzJovino-RanchoQuemado3 New Communities:  We expanded the geographic area where we work to include three communities in the Osa Peninsula: Rancho Quemado, El Progreso and Bahía Drake. Two workshops, totaling three days, focused on implementing GIS and GPS to monitor community resources and identify community boundaries. The Geoporter Director and three local Geoporter community members conducted the workshops in each community during the slower tourism months from September to November. This work was conducted as part of the Osa and Golfito Initiative (INOGO) and the Caminos de Liderazgo Project, under the supervision of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. In 2015, we look to continue this collaboration and work with two additional communities conducting similar workshops.

Cheves-Reymer-Guias-Training-GeoporterNew Guides and Captains:  We trained seven additional boat tour guides to use GPS and participate in the mapping of humpback whales, their offspring, and other cetaceans throughout an additional two seasons. Previous captains and guides assisted training these new guides. Boat tours to see the migration of humpback whales and their offspring is the primary economic driver of Bahia Ballena and geospatial technologies is helping this tourism sector to better understand develop sustainable tourism practices to keep from stressing the whales.

“Clean Streets, Clean Waters”:  The community transitioned from data collection and mapping of trash in the first part of the year to taking action and applying these actions to make a change in the amount of trash in the streets and beaches.

  • Villia-Dario-Sticker-NoTiroBasura-GeoporterWe developed a silent “Yo No Tiro Basura” sticker campaign with community members who mapped trash. Using a local printing company, 4,100 stickers were created with funds donated from thirteen local businesses and organizations. This campaign raised the level of awareness to making a commitment to not throw trash in the streets.
  • Community members created a video using local photographs to highlight the beauty of Bahía Ballena and how it is affected by the trash that is left behind. This video was showcased in front of 5,000 tourists during the 6th Annual Festival of Whales and Dolphins in September.

Ninos-GPS-Basura-GeoporterSchools and Youth: We advanced teachers’ and youths’ understanding and use of GPS and GIS by working with Escuela Verde and Escuela La Flor de Bahía Ballena and the after school program of Forjando Alas.

Joseph-Margarita-T3G-GeoporterTeacher to T3G Institute: We supported Margarita Morales, the Director and a teacher at Escuela Verde to apply and attend the T3G Institute on the Esri campus in Redlands, CA. Alongside other educators from around the world, she learned the skills and pedagogy to incorporate GIS into her classroom as well as prepare her to conduct outreach to other educators in her school and in the region.

Jovino-Luz-Fiona-Quebradas-GeoporterVolunteers and Quebradas:  We learned from and engaged with another volunteer, Fiona Lewis from Australia, for two months in late spring. She worked with students at Escuela Verde, helped create necessary organizational documents, supported training, and worked with Geoporter assistants, Luz and Tania. She also supported the implementation of a new community project, mapping the quebradas (or creeks) in town for emergency purposes and to identify point sources of pollution.

Traveler’s Philanthropy Program:  We established a long term funding opportunity with Bodhi Surf, one of the local tourism companies in the region. Geoporter was selected as one of three local organizations to receive funds from Bodhi Surf’s Traveler’s Philanthropy program. Previous guests are given the opportunity to donate pre-established funds to Geoporter or contribute more, if they choose to do so. We hope this will be a continuous source of funding for 2015.

In looking back over this past year we managed to do much with the resources we had. We are committed to continue the work we have started in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica and expanding our efforts. We are looking forward to the exciting things to come in 2015 with Geoporter. You continued support and interest in Geoporter helps us continue to grow, allowing us to make a difference in the live and communities in which we work.

Thank you!   Pura Vida!   Gracias

Students help school earn Bandera Azul recognition

Students from Escuela La Flor de Bahia help their school earn its first Bandera Azul (Blue Flag). Students is grades two through six (2-6) worked with Geoporter and community volunteers weekly for seven weeks to work on its waste management initiative. As such, students participated by mapping and collecting trash on school grounds, the adjoining soccer field, and street in front of their school. Quickly picking up on how to use GPS units, the students were off and running, collecting and recording the locations of where they picked up trash. They then downloaded their GPS points, creating their very own School Trash Map.

View Larger Map

The data the students collected was sent into the Bandera Azul program along with other school identified initiatives that include: water management, risk management, environmental education, status of health services, promoting clean spaces, developing an integrated waste management plan and energy. Before April of 2014, Escuela La Flor de Bahia will celebrate by raising its first blue flag on school grounds as part of the Bandera Azul program.



Shifting from Trash Collections to Taking Action! What can we do to prevent trash from entering our streets?

Since April, various individuals from Bahía-Uvita have been working together to understand a serious problem that impacts communities around the world: Trash. Every Friday, starting the first week in April, individuals have gathered to pick up trash from the streets. Each week a new location is selected for the cleanup. But, this isn’t just any ordinary community trash collection. Residents are using GPS technology to record the location of the trash they collect and then using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to create maps that show the amount of trash and type of trash collected.



The approach residents selected to map the trash is: to count and classify the type of trash in a 24m radius along the streets and beaches. The resulting trash map shows the areas that have the greatest amount of trash.


As a community, we could continue to collect trash every Friday for the rest of our lives. But that is not the answer to the trash problem. Rather, we have to take action to prevent trash from entering our streets in the first place. Using the trash map, we as a community have identified where new public trashcans (checkered flags on map), to use for both trash and recyclables, need to be placed. The community is working now to gather the resources and materials to construct trashcans to place in the identified locations.


The Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Uvita recently constructed 4 trash cans to place in Bahia-Uvita. These are in addition to the trash and recycling cans sponsored by Bodhi Surf School and Bahía Aventuras (green flags on map) in January and the materials that others such as the Asociación de Guías and the Asociación de Operadores de Turismo y individual businesses are looking to also provide.

basureros-uvita-asociación de-desarrollo-integral-de-uvita-geoporter


Placing trashcans in public locations is not the only solution to eliminating trash. Education and outreach are also important for understanding what we can do today as well as how our actions today can impact the future. The last two Fridays Geoporter has switched from trash collections to discussions about what actions can we take to reach out to students, community members, businesses and tourists who visit our community. The ideas generated from the first meeting were plentiful and impressive, but not the final list. The list will continue to grow as others submit ideas and choose to take responsibility for helping to implement the actions that will benefit the community.


During this last meeting, the group highlighted the most important items to carry out as a community and what each person would be willing to commit to doing. Thus for future Fridays individuals will work on items they commit to and report back. We invite all those interested in assisting to join our meetings and conversations and to share new ideas and commit to an action(s) that is important to them.