Do you know how much water and electricity you use each month?
Neither do most Costa Ricans.
In a survey gauging the “environmental commitment” of the Costa Rican population, 83.4 percent said they didn’t know how much water their household consumes, and 86.5 percent reported no knowledge of their home’s electricity consumption.
Overall, the study concluded that 33 percent of the population has a “high environmental commitment.”
But that’s not to say that Ticos never think about Mother Nature.
“Yes, only a third of the people show a high environmental commitment, but the remainder of the people demonstrated a medium commitment,” said Martín Solís, the survey’s chief researcher.
The study measured environmental commitment on a zero-to-100 scale. A score of above 75 indicates a high commitment.
On average, the Costa Ricans polled scored 64.4 percent.
“Most of the people just need a little extra push to reach a high commitment,” Solís said.
The scale considered each respondent’s efforts to save water and electricity and separate solid wastes, and their willingness to purchase environmentally friendly products.
But even though most Ticos might only need a gentle shove toward 75 points, the survey revealed that not all that glitters is green.
Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said they have seen someone throw trash on the ground or dump wastewater into a river. Others have witnessed illegal deforestation and illicit pollution from agrochemicals.
Of the participants, 83 percent said they have seen water leaks in public places.
Even so, only 44 percent of those who have witnessed such damage said they have reported it.
Nearly half of the respondents said they don’t report environmental damage because they are either “indifferent to the situation and believe that it’s not their duty” or because they think “someone else will report it.”
“People have the attitude of ‘It’s not my problem, and it’s not my responsibility,’” Solís said.
See the July 2 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.