Three years ago, I learned that two organizations in Costa Rica— the Costa Rican Accessible Tourism Network and Pro Parques— are working to transform plastic caps into walkways that allow disabled people to get to the ocean, especially people in wheelchairs or people with limited mobility.
The idea moved me very much. In 2021, our family and friends with physical disabilities still need to have options to visit accessible tourist sites. Having walkways, of course, is just a first step, but it’s as valuable as all of the remaining ones. In addition, it’s done by reusing the plastic that often ends up in drain pipes, rivers or oceans.
The process works like this: the caps that families, communities, companies and organizations donate— which need to be plastic types #2, #4 and #5— are processed in a collection center to turn them into plastic lumber. Retractable walkways are designed and built with that lumber. They are made in a way that can be extended and retracted according to the tide because, by law, they can’t be left permanently on the sand.
Since I found out about it, I collect all the caps from my drink bottles and I pick up the ones that I find lying on the street. Recently I found out that the caps from toothpaste and shampoo, to-go food containers and the handles of disposable razors are also valid. I’m convinced that if all of the families in my neighborhood, in the canton where I live and in the country join in, we’ll soon succeed in having more and more accessible beaches.
With the collection campaigns that both organizations began in 2018, the Accessible Tourism Network installed a retractable walkway in Jaco in March of 2019, making it the first beach in the country with this ability.
They also have a trailer with a walkway, amphibious chairs (with wheels designed so people can move along the beach or go into the water), bathrooms and changing rooms in Playa Hermosa in Carrillo. They’ll move it to another beach in July.
The founder of the Accessible Tourism Network, Stephanie Sheehy, commented that there are two hotels interested in receiving and managing the trailer starting in July: one in Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste, and another in Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas.
In 2019, the Pro Parques Association also installed a walkway built with 16 tons of recycled lids in Blanca Beach in Cahuita National Park. They were also able to place an amphibious chair there. Their next beach objective is Manuel Antonio— which will also include an amphibious chair— and they’re already looking for suggestions to line up the next national park and beach.
In addition to Jaco in Puntarenas, Blanca Beach in Cahuita and Hermosa in Guanacaste, Samara, also in Guanacaste, also benefited with a ramp in 2020. However, currently it has been removed due to damages that occurred during the rainy season.
In addition, this month, the Municipality of Osa in Puntarenas will also adapt a section of one of its beaches so it will have facilities such as walkways and amphibious chairs, Sheehy said.
In Guanacaste, the Pro Parques campaign only has one collection point: the Nicoya Lions Club. The good news is that the organization will hold a caps collection campaign between April 12 and 16 and if you or your business, company or organization want to help collect them, you can contact the project coordinator, Cassandra Godoy, by phone at 8949-3110.
Here are the Accessible Tourism Network collection points:
In all cantons:
- Monge Store
- Rogafa: 300 meters west of the Economy Rent a Car
- Coriport S.A. – Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport
- Conapdis: 225 meters south of the Social Security office
- Panache Sailing: 250 meters east of Hotel Bahia del Sol in Potrero Beach
- Conchal Reserve: Brasilito, Cabo Velas, Santa Cruz
- Transmiratours: 200 meters north of Catsa
- Municipality of Hojancha
- Bagaces Municipal Building, 125 meters north of the Public Force police station, Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Visit this site if you want to learn about other collection points outside of Guanacaste.