Normally, ecological blue flags have been awarded to beaches, schools and institutions in recognition of their efforts to promoted environmental awareness. However, this is the first year that individual homes have participated in the program.
The Lopez family is one of them. One of its youngest members, Marels Jimenez, 5, started picking up trash in the yard and taking it to different recycling bags in the kitchen after her family started participating in the new Blue Flag Homes program about a year ago.
In April, the family was awarded a blue flag with one star and they are hoping to continue with their participation next year.
After the family agreed upon their participation in the program, several things changed in their lives. They started allocating the trash into different bags and bins in categories of paper, plastic and organic. Additionally they began recycling their used water by watering their yard with it, composting their organic trash to use it later as fertilizer for their garden and using environmentally friendly light bulbs.
Making these changes didn’t come to the family all that easily. The transition took time. Juan Lopez, the patriarch of the family, explained, “We were used to throwing all the trash together. But this year has been good. We have been learning a lot of ways to recycle water and save water and electricity.”
While 40 families from the whole country participated in the program during its first year, only 19 of them were honored with the flag. Lopez’s family is not the only one who got awarded the flag in Nosara. Six other families in the community won the flag, including Bobbi Johnson, Pam Lancaster, Barry Oliver, Edith Lopez, Karuna Pragaya and Jessica Sheffield.
The strong participation from Nosara families reflects that the program for homes was started by a Nosaran, Jessica Sheffield, vice president of the Recycling Association. Sheffield noticed that environmental efforts being made in the country didn’t encourage action at home, which she considers “the most important foundation of our society.”
As a result, she wanted to reward people for performing simple actions at home and pave the way for people who want to be environmentally friendly but aren’t sure how.
She developed a proposal called “Sustainable Home Certificate,” which was a finalist in the “I Entrepreneur” contest, and caught the attention of the director of the Ecological Blue Flag Program. Thus the Blue Flag Homes concept was born.