San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

3rd annual National Cleanup Day focuses on oceans

The third annual National Cleanup Day kicked off Sept. 2, with organizers urging citizens and businesses to change waste management practices in order to protect the environment and respect human health. Nydia Rodríguez, executive director of Terra Nostra Association, which organizes the cleanups, was joined by Environment Vice Minister Ana Lorena Guevara, Costa Rica Tourism Board Sustainability Process Co-ordinator Alberto López and Coopeservidores Business Director Erick Loría at the launch event held at the Coopeservidores Auditorium in San José’s Barrio México.

The focus of this year’s cleanup is the ocean. Costa Rican homes generate 4,500 tons of solid waste each day, according to Terra Nostra. Approximately 30 percent of this trash lies in streets, vacant lots and other public places until rain sweeps it into sewers and rivers, before it ultimately ends up in the ocean. The cleanup day will last throughout the month of September, and Terra Nostra expects more than 5,000 volunteers to help clean up approximately 100,000 kilograms of debris at 80 sites throughout Costa Rica. Additionally, 31 collection sites will be set up around the country to recycle electronic devices.

Last year, Costa Rica passed an Integral Waste Management Law establishing a national recycling program that dictates regulations for disposing of different types of materials. These regulations will be put in place over the next 10 years under the supervision of the Health Ministry (TT, June 25, 2010).

“Although the law has made an improvement, a law can’t change people’s habits,” said Giovanna Longhi, director of National Cleanup Day at Terra Nostra. “Most people don’t know that most plastic ends up in the ocean.”

The most common items found by volunteers at last year’s National Cleanup Day were bottle caps, plastic bottles, straws and plastic bags.

Founded in 2000, Terra Nostra encourages conservation and recycling through social responsibility and citizen participation. The organization promotes responsible practices by citizens, government and businesses.

One business pitching in to support National Cleanup Day is downtown San José’s Tin Jo restaurant, which hosted an Aug. 31 fundraiser for the cause. Diners dressed in various shades of blue and white enjoyed delicious pan-Asian cuisine, organic wines and entertainment that included comedy, magic and music in return for their contributions toward cleanup efforts. According to Tin Jo owner Maria Hon, the event raised approximately $10,000; all proceeds will go to Terra Nostra.

Public institutions, companies and citizens are participating in the cleanup. For information about National Cleanup Day and how to help, go to Terra Nostra’s website at

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