Monday, December 3, 2007

Costa Rica Edo-Lodge HelpsSave Endangered Sea Turtles

The Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the stunning Osa Peninsula has come up with a unique way to save Costa Rica's sea turtles. The lodge has teamed with a local women's group to collect the plastic bags and bottles that litter the beaches, and cut and weave them into usable things.

The program is creating a new handicrafts industry which is providing income to local families, at the same time it is helping save the endangered sea turtles. These are the large and lumbering Olive Ridley, Pacific Green and Leatherback sea turtles.

Sadly, many of these beautiful creatures are dying from improper plastic bag disposal and poaching, which is impacting the area's natural ecosystem in a dramatic way. Sea turtles often mistake the plastic bag litter for a favorite food -- jellyfish -- and the sea turtles suffocate when they try to eat the plastic.
More than 1,000 sea turtles visit the area each season, and this effort will help save many of them.
The Lapa Rios project does four things at the same time --
  • reduces littered plastic bags,

  • saves sea turtles,

  • cleans up the environment

  • creates micro business opportunities for women who might otherwise be unemployed.

Now that's what I call a win-win program.

The eco-lodge even has sponsored a workshop to teach local women how to make the beautiful, recycled bags, which are being sold at the Lapa Rios gift store, as well as on-line. The lodge has teamed up with Women of the Osa, ASCONA (Asociacion Costarricense para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza) and others to support the Osa Sea Turtle Conservation program, Weaving for Nature.

The the multi-colored plastic bags are cut into long strips, and knit or woven into new, attractive handbags and purses. The recycled bags are sold in the lodge's gift shop, and via the lodge website.