Part of our Ocean Guardian Journey (our Corporate Responsibility Program) is to help make our own community better and stronger. One way we have done so is by working alongside other community leaders, businesses, and organizations to reduce our collective environmental impact. This year, we have been so proud to be a part of the creation of Bahia Ballena Libre de Plastico (Bahia Ballena Free of Plastic initiative), which you may remember having read about earlier this summer. We’re excited to see the initiative really taking off, with many businesses committing to doing their part and the community rallying together on a very large and important project!
The creation of the Bahia Ballena Plastic Free Initiative
On June 8, 2016, World’s Oceans Day, people from approximately 15 local businesses gathered at the offices of local boat tour operator, Bahía Aventuras, located in Bahía Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica. The mission of the meeting: to discuss the environmental problems caused by single use plastics and develop realistic, implementable solutions. From that initial meeting, several companies made the change to start refusing and reducing single use plastics. That same year, the tourism operators association of the Marino Ballena National Park decided to reduce single use plastics during their annual Whale and Dolphin Festival.
Goals of the initiative
Then in 2017, three local nonprofit organizations and the recipients of Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s Travelers’ Philanthropy Program donations (ASANA, Geoporter Costa Rica, and Forjando Alas), gathered to develop a strategic plan on how to use that funding. During the meeting, all three organizations decided to support the formalization of the Bahía Ballena Plastic Free Initiative. Finally, on Earth Day (April 22, 2017), these organizations along with Bodhi Surf + Yoga launched the initiative, with the primary focus being to refuse and reduce single use plastic consumption, provide alternatives, create awareness about how plastics are suffocating the oceans, and provide viable solutions in their home community. The focus of Bahia Ballena Plastic Free Initiative is based in the communities of Costa Ballena (Dominical, Uvita, Bahia, Ojochal) located around the Marino Ballena National Park, a high-profile coastal tourism destination which hosts up to 170,000 visitors annually.
Bahia Ballena’s plastic whale
Since formalizing, the Bahia Ballena Plastic Free Initiative has been able to create and disseminate a digital pledge for businesses, organizations, and individuals, as well design and print educational campaign posters and decals. The most exciting project so far happened in August 2017: with the help of artist Alban Corrales, community leaders, local businesses, and nonprofits, they organized and were able to complete the construction of a 9 x 5 meter humpback whale made from 3,494 single use plastic water bottles. The project was large in scope, yet only took ten days to finish due to the support of more than 60 volunteers. The whale is the symbol of human plastic use and its impact on marine life, and a visual reminder for everyone to do their part to reduce their plastic consumption. The whale will be on display near the Marino Ballena National Park as it hosts its annual Whale and Dolphin Festival in late September/early October.
Check out the video about the creation of the plastic whale!