Recently, students and staff spent a half day volunteering at the community recycling facility in Atenas, Costa Rica. We worked alongside staff members and community volunteers to organize recyclable materials such as glass bottles, cardboard boxes, milk containers, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles. This outreach event allowed us as students to integrate with the community and meet new people. It was fun to take on the challenge and work with locals. I learned some Spanish words from the staff members at the facility such as vidrio “glass” and aluminio “aluminum”. Also, we learned that Costa Rica has to export most of its recyclable materials because the country does not have facilities or machinery to break down certain recyclables.

Participating in this event changed my perspective on recycling culture and community engagement. I was impressed with how many locals participated in recycling either through volunteering at the facility or collecting recyclable products to bring to the facility. It inspired me to get more involved in recycling programs back at home in the States. It’s clear that Costa Ricans have a lot of respect for their land and they genuinely care about its appearance. It felt good to embody the morals of a local by being eco-friendly to the environment. I enjoyed my experience and I would surely volunteer here again.


Photo courtesy of Kris Pieper

→ Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica